FBI Names Six U.S. States Most Vulnerable to Online Attacks

News and Analysis

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has estimated that cybercriminals stole approximately $2 billion from victims by virtue of compromising corporate email accounts, in 2019. Criminals continued to invent new and more sophisticated types of attacks last year, although quite widespread extortion, government impersonation, and spoofing were the three crime categories newly added to the report by the agency, in 2019.

The FBI indicated California, Florida, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington as the states with the highest victim monetary losses or number of victims in 2019. California led the rating in terms of the volume of victim losses which amounted to $573.6 million, last year, while the number of victims only increased by 2%.

The volume of victim monetary losses per state in 2019

The volume of victim monetary losses per state in 2019. Source: Florida Atlantic University

California is followed by Ohio that had the largest loss rate of $22.6 million per one million in population, in 2019, and Florida that had the third-highest loss rate of $13.7 million per one million in population, in 2019.

Per the report, Washington was hit with the highest number of victims adjusted for population in 2019, with 1,720 victims per one million in population. Florida and Texas showed a similar number of victims in 2019.

The number of victims per state in 2019The number of victims per state in 2019. Source: Florida Atlantic University

“Over the last five years, victim losses in the six top states have increased more than 150% with Ohio having the highest growth of 1,600%. Washington had the highest growth rate in number of victims of 100%, while Florida had the lowest of 34%,” the report said.

Most Popular Online Crimes in 2019

According to the FBI, threat actors mostly fell back to Business Email Compromise/Email Account Compromise (BEC/EAC) to break into personal or corporate email accounts aiming to obtain sensitive information and divert and request electronic wire transfers to fraudulent money accounts.

Through BEC/EAC, cybercriminals managed to steal $1.8 billion from victims in 2019. “This scheme has grown at varying rates in five of the six top states while declining 10% in New York. From 2018 through 2019, Ohio victim losses increased by 245%, but only 6% in Texas,” the report detailed.

Although extortion is not a new Internet crime and had not reportedly been a relatively large online crime before 2018, the FBI detected a notable increase of victim losses from this type of crime in the six top states, in 2019.

The report further pointed out the government impersonation as one of the most popular fraudulent schemes in 2019. This type of Internet crime ran rampant in 2019, marking a high growth especially in California and New York.

Among other most widespread online crimes last year, the report mentioned credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, and spoofing.

Hacker Attacks Continue to Proliferate

As forklog.media previously reported, hackers seem to have shifted their focus from individual servers to corporate networks. In the second half of 2019, the number of postings on illicit marketplaces offering access to corporate networks reportedly began surging.

Cybercriminals have been actively placing so-called “access for sale” proposals on darknet seeking to sell the remote control over enterprise computers to third parties, over the past months. Once a third party obtains access to corporate computers, they can perform attacks on the company’s infrastructure and eventually steal data and disrupt business operations.

Per a report from IBM, in the fourth quarter of 2019, the volume of ransomware attacks increased by 67% year-on-year, with bad actors continuously developing new ransomware code for destructive attacks.

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