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FBI warns ransomware cybercrimes on the rise

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – Cyber criminals know no boundaries. Whether you’re the big company or the little guy, FBI agents say you’re now a target.

Special agent Chad Hunt investigates ransomware cybercrimes which cost Georgians more than $20 million dollars last year.

“Unfortunately, it runs the spectrum from individuals up to major corporations,” Hunt said. “Often times the bad guys will actually steal the data and then threaten to extort you and release it.”

Online crimes are on the rise as more people work from home and more people rely on digital technology.

In 2017, criminals hacked into private records at Equifax in Atlanta, data belonging to hundreds of millions of Americans. The company has since partnered with the FBI and hired over 600-cyber security professionals to fight off the attacks.

“Three years ago, we were consistently seeing around 3 to 5 million attacks per day and now we’re up to $32 million to $35 million,” Equifax Chief Information Security Officer Jamil Farshchi said.

Then in 2018, hackers breached the city of Atlanta’s database holding the city hostage for nearly a week.

And in 2021, cybercriminals stole corporate data from the Colonial Pipeline Company in Alpharetta forcing them to shut down, which negatively impacted gas prices.

“Bad guys have seen that type of attack be successful so hopefully the bad thing happened to that one company but others can learn from it and prepare for it so they can’t be victimized in the same way,” Hunt said.

Still, FBI agents emphasized that everyone online is a target and there are ways to protect yourself before it’s too late.

“Not reusing passwords, using multi factor authentication, and I mentioned earlier back-ups, making sure your home computers are backed up,” Hunt said.

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