KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The FBI is urging the public to be on alert against cybersecurity threats as attacks are on the rise.
A supervisory special agent of the FBI cybercrimes task force told KSHB 41 common issues in the Kansas City area include SIM swapping where the criminal can gain access to a victim's cellphone SIM card and steal personal information. Another issue is Malvertising where a malicious code is injected into legitimate sites.
Such crimes result in financial losses of millions of dollars, according to the FBI.
The agent further explained attacks fall under three objectives:
- Financial gain
- Intelligence collection
- Organization impact
"From individuals to small companies, to larger companies, to government entities, we're seeing it across the board," said Charles Dayoub with the FBI.
Dayoub serves as the agent in charge of the Kansas City Field Office.
"It's probably not if, it's when you kind of suffer some type of cyberattack, and you want to have a plan and you don't want to be making that up as you go along," Dayoub said.
His advice to protect oneself from a cyberattack includes:
- Use a secure network like a VPN
- Don't use public Wi-Fi
- Create complex passwords
"You want to use passphrases," Dayoub said. "So long passwords are way better than smaller, complex passwords."
Cyberattacks reported in the Kansas City metro varied from small businesses to a large hospital system and county government.
In 2019, University Health was hit with ransomware. In March 2022, bookstore Black and Brown reported being hacked. And around Easter, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, was targeted by a cyberattack.
Cyber security expert James Turgal said the timing of attacks, such as what the UG experienced, is deliberate.
"Holiday weekends are absolutely a favorite of a number of the Russian ransomware organizations and so, they plan it that way," said Turgal, who spent over 20 years with the FBI. "They know that there are a ton of folks that are wanting to not be at the office, and they are not necessarily available because they're out either on vacation or they're doing what they want to do during these holidays."
FBI officials urge people to report issues if they've been attacked but say concerns keep people and companies from coming forward.
"What is the FBI going to do when they get there? Is the FBI going to tell everybody? Is the public going to find out?" Dayoub said. "The FBI will tailor our response to whatever company or that entity's needs. So, if that's something that doesn't need to get out for whatever reason, we are very much going to be under the radar — we do not make anything public."
Officials also warn people to beware of what they share on social media because that information could be used against them to get into their networks.