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FBI: 5,853 cybercrime SC victim complaints in 2020, experts warn situation is getting worse

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 7:24 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In the past month, cybercrimes have impacted the daily lives of millions of Americans.

A hack of the Colonial Pipeline created a gas shortage, while a hack of JBS (the world’s largest meat producer) slowed production.

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While the two hacks have drawn international attention, Midlands cybersecurity professionals warn the targeting of small businesses is becoming routine.

The FBI data reports statistics on complaints of suspected internet crime and the cost to suspected victims.

In March it published its 2020 report, which showed there were 5,853 victims filing complaints in South Carolina. The victims reported losses of $25,244,978.

Those numbers spiked from 2019, where there were 4,541 victims filing complaints costing $20,186,041.

Kimico Myers owns the IT firm TeamLogic IT, based in Columbia, and provides cybersecurity services.

He said he sees gaps in the defense of Midlands small businesses, namely a lack of money to pay for more advanced cybersecurity as problems grow more complex.

“There’s literally daily new threats that are out there, and so you’re always playing this game of catch-up,” he said.

Myers recommended employee training, anti-virus software, and backing up company data as basic preventative defenses.

“If you’re organization has been hacked, infected with ransomware, there’s nothing we can do in terms of being able to recover your data. The only options are pay the ransom, get the decryption key from the hacker and hope and pray it’s legitimate, or simply don’t pay,” he said.

IntelliSystems President and CEO Kevin Wade echoed Myers’ comments, saying small businesses in the area lack investment in cybersecurity.

“Anybody that makes money can be a target because these are criminals. It’s a business for them. They’re looking to make money, it’s not some kid with a hood on in a basement that’s doing it for fun,” Wade said.

He said he expects more critical infrastructure businesses to be targeted moving forward, but reiterated local businesses are not spared.

Both experts stated their companies have had to help health clinics recoup and protect data from hackers in recent years.

The FBI reported a record number of complaints in 2020 (791,790) with reported losses coming in over $4.1 billion.

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