OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Numbers show that as Americans embrace technology and the digital world more and more every year, criminals are taking advantage of it.
“It’s fair to say, five, six, seven years ago, required a much high level of sophistication to launch a ransomware attack. Where now, criminal actors have a much easier time finding tools,” said Eugene Kowel, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Omaha Field Office.
FBI data shows over the last five years, the total financial loss from cyberattacks has nearly tripled — going up around 34% every year and topping off at $4.2 billion in 2020.
The attacks are hitting individuals and big and small companies.
“Large businesses, multi-national corporation, all the way to small businesses, startups,” said Wade Greening, with the FBI.
In Nebraska alone, over $13 million was lost due to cyberattacks this year. It’s worse in Iowa, where the loss in 2021 is over $24 million.
“Their thoughts are, at least ones we see a lot, are, 'This has never happened to me.' We need to change that thinking to, 'When this happens to us, what are we going to do?'" said Kenneth Schmutz.
Schmutz, who specializes in cybersecurity for the FBI, says the best thing a business can do is make a cyber incident response plan.
“Honestly, if there’s a cyberattacker that is set on getting into your company, they will probably get in,” said Schmutz.
“Limit the damage and know what you’re going to do in response.”
There are plenty of things companies can do to try and avoid being hit.
That includes having multi-factor authentication, implementing basic virus protection software and giving tips to employees.
“Educate your employees of what a phishing email looks like, what they can look for and they should just delete them instead of clicking,” said Schmutz.
The FBI also emphasized that if you are attacked, the best thing you can do is report it. That helps them potentially find the people that did it, and even get your money back.