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FBI encourages cyber security partnerships in the western United States

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (KIFI) - Ransomware and email scams seem to be gaining ground in Idaho.

The FBI held a conference on Thursday in the Salt Lake City field office to discuss cyber crimes and trends that could affect both private citizens and businesses.

According to the FBI, Idahoans lost millions of dollars to cyber-crimes in 2021. The state is a target-rich environment for cybercriminals and nation-state actors.

"For the state of Idaho since 2018, we've had 33 reported incidents of ransomware totaling almost $1,000,000," said FBI Special Agent in charge Dennis Rice. "A little over $950,000 has been paid out in these incidents. And we've seen over 12 different variants in that in the state of Idaho from those 33 reported incidents."

In Idaho, more than 130 of our neighbors have been victims of scammer emails. One ploy involves hackers getting into the email accounts of potential home buyers and impersonating the realtor to steal down payments.

But most ransomware targeted hospitals or local governments.

"They're not necessarily focused as much on the individual user, although that could potentially happen if you're running a business from home. But they're targeting bigger institutions where they know there's more money to be made," said Agent Rice.

Agent rice recommends most companies have some sort of cyber insurance. However, be careful where you store it.

"Some companies invest in cyber insurance, which is a great idea, but we would recommend that you pay close attention that maybe if you store your cyber insurance policy on your network and hackers on there looking around, that they may potentially then know what you're insured for," said Agent Rice.

Even after a cyber attack is corrected, there can still be consequences down the road.

"We, unfortunately, had one institution within our area that was hit twice. They were hit in 2020. They paid the ransom. They brought in a company to remediate the situation. And then two years later, they were hit again with a different variant of that same type of ransomware," said Agent Rice.

Agent rice recommends that companies create more elaborate password protection on software.

Malicious cyber activity threatens the public’s safety and our national and economic security. The FBI encourages organizations of all sizes to partner with their local FBI office before a cyber incident occurs.

Victims of online crimes can file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center. For more information, click HERE.

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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