US businesses and citizens lost more than $4 billion to cyberattacks and internet scams over the course of 2020, according to a new report from the FBI.
Based on data aggregated through the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), where citizens can report financial losses from cybercrime and online fraud, the report states that 20% more money was lost than in the year before. Victims also reported more than 2,000 incidents a day on average, up from 1,200 in 2019.
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Variety of attacks
In total, BEC incidents were reported more than 19,000 times and resulted in approximately $1.8 billion in losses. A comparison with figures from 2019 (23,775 complaints and $1.7 billion in damages) suggests criminals cast a smaller net, but were more successful in defrauding victims for larger sums.
Unlike BEC attacks, the effectiveness of which plateaued last year, ransomware attacks became far more devastating. In 2020, the FBI received a total of 2,747 ransomware complaints, accounting for $29.1 million in damages, versus only $8.9 million the year before. And the overall losses are likely to be far greater, because not all incidents are reported to the authorities.
It's not just businesses that suffered at the hands of cybercriminals, however. American citizens were also defrauded to the tune of $146 million through tech support scams, with losses growing by 171% year-on-year.
Most of the victims (66%) were 60 years of age or older, the FBI said, adding that the scams are usually joint efforts between overseas call centers and US-based suspects.
Tweeting about the findings, Former FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit analyst Crane Hassold said it was “insane” that BEC accounted for almost 40% of all last year’s losses.
“Given the fact that 'spoofing' is likely a subset of BEC, the total loss number is close to $2.1 BILLION!” he added.
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