Malicious cyber actors across the world target U.S. citizens, businesses, and military and government entities every day. These cyber criminals cause billions of dollars in losses, making cybercrime a growing threat for law enforcement.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received more than 350,000 complaints with losses exceeding $2.7 billion in 2018. The total number of complaints and estimated losses were the highest the center had received over the previous four years. For comparison, in 2017, the center received 301,580 complaints, totaling $1.4 billion in losses.
Faced with the growing threat of cyber crime, it is crucial for state and local police agencies to invest in cyber programs. From the standpoint of a criminal, cybercrime is relatively low-risk and has the potential for enormous rewards. Until police agencies become adept at preventing and investigating cybercrime, there may not be significant deterrents to thwart cybercrime relative to other types of crime.
Supported by BJA, the Law Enforcement Cyber Center (LECC) serves as a central online resource to meet the needs of police chiefs, investigators, line officers, digital forensic examiners, and other practitioners. The LECC enhances the awareness, expands the education, and builds the capacity of justice and public safety professionals toward the global goal of combating high tech crimes.
Among the victims most vulnerable to criminal acts on the internet are children and teenagers. It’s easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate other users online, making it critical to teach children they must be careful about the information that they share online and the sites that they visit. Through programs such as OJJDP’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, OJP is working to help law enforcement agencies develop effective response to online crimes against children, including technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation.
Cyberbullying is another online threat to youth. In 2017, one study found that nearly 15 percent of students reported being bullied electronically during the year before the survey. The dangers of cyberbullying are similar to traditional bullying, but threats may not stop when children are in the safety of their own homes Cyberbullying can include the posting of hurtful information online, exclusion from an online community, and unwanted contact via email or text messaging.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an opportunity to review best practices in protecting personal information online and learning how to best ensure that you and your loved ones are safe online.
Visit the following pages for additional information and resources from the Office of Justice Programs and other federal sources: