FBI urges individuals, companies to exercise proactive approach to cyber security

MIDDLETON, Wis. – The FBI keeps a close watch on cyber security threats, but Wednesday morning agents stressed in order for them to be more proactive with prevention, they need the help of both individuals and companies.

At a special roundtable in Middleton, the Bureau’s Special Agent in Charge in Wisconsin, Michael Hensel, made a push for more public engagement as cyber-attacks continue to grow exponentially.

According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or the IC3, just last year Americans lost nearly $2.4 billion to attacks involving compromised email, and companies reported losing $49.2 million to ransomware attacks.

“That’s something we don’t anticipate slowing down, it’ll just keep growing,” Hensel said. “It’s definitely something that’s here to stay, and it’s something that awareness plays a big in the protection.”

Hensel and his fellow agents are asking people and companies to practice what the FBI calls “Good Cyber Hygiene.”

That means things like having two-factor authentication, backing up data, never trusting email for payment wiring instructions, and being aware of the latest threats and trends.

Hensel is recommending people get the FBI involved early, in part because in some cases if the attack is reported within 24-48 hours, the FBI is more likely to get your money back.

He said reporting those attacks can also help investigators establish patterns among victims and attackers across the country so they can better focus on prevention.

“If you yourself are victimized or a company is being victimized, chances are it’s being done in California, in New York, or Florida,” he said.

He also said while they will always prioritize national security and critical infrastructure no concern is too small.