FBI Philadelphia Urges Cybersecurity Awareness
The FBI is engaged in a cybersecurity awareness campaign to warn government and private sector organizations in our region about continued cyber threats. This campaign includes media engagements, social media posts, and presentations to local industry groups.
As the home of many businesses, universities, and other nonprofits, the Philadelphia area is a target-rich environment for cyberattacks. The FBI Philadelphia Office is inviting organizations of all sizes to partner with us before a cyber incident occurs.
“With the staggering risks posed by cybercrime today, there’s increased urgency for the FBI, the public sector, and the private sector to work together against this threat,” said Jacqueline Maguire, FBI Philadelphia special Agent in charge. “That’s why we’re encouraging municipalities, businesses, and other organizations to proactively establish a relationship with us, and to report cyberattacks quickly, should they occur. Cybersecurity is national security—and strengthening our nation’s cyber defenses is a critical task requiring a cooperative effort.”
Current Cyber Threats
- Critical Infrastructure Attacks: The private sector controls most of the country’s critical infrastructure, intellectual property, and personal data, making large corporations and small businesses targets of cyberattacks. In 2021, America’s critical infrastructure experienced an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks. While nation-state threats remain the most significant threat to critical infrastructure because of their persistence, sophistication, and potential for destructive intent, ransomware attacks by cybercriminals have also targeted U.S. critical infrastructure, including emergency services, hospitals, and the energy sector.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malicious software that cybercriminals and nation-state actors often deploy after they have hacked into a victim’s computer to encrypt their data. These bad actors then demand payment of a ransom to unlock the encrypted data. The FBI has observed ransomware attacks become more targeted and has seen the ransoms increase significantly in recent years. While the perpetrators of these attacks would typically demand a few hundred dollars in the mid-2000s, some now use a sliding scale based on the annual revenue of the victim organizations. When a ransomware incident occurs, swift communication with the FBI could positively impact data recovery efforts. Through victim engagements, the FBI also develops a greater understanding of the different variants and ransomware groups to the benefit of future victims.
- Supply Chain Attacks: A business’s cybersecurity is only as strong as that of its trusted vendors. The FBI warns companies that supply chains are increasingly a point of vulnerability for computer intrusions.
Partnering with FBI Philadelphia
The most vital step a company or organization can take to protect itself is to implement good cyber hygiene practices. As a company or entity strengthens its cybersecurity, the FBI highly recommends engaging with the local FBI field office.
Meeting with the FBI before a compromise helps companies understand the potential threats specific to that company. It also provides an understanding of how the FBI protects the confidentiality of victims as we partner with them to determine the severity of a compromise, provide information to help prevent re-infection, and to identify hackers. As the only U.S. government agency with both law enforcement and intelligence capabilities, the FBI is an indispensable partner that provides around-the-clock support to victims. Partnering with the FBI connects businesses with our network of domestic and foreign counterparts and private sector partners.
FBI cyber experts not only help respond to cyberattacks but also work to help prevent them. They can share information with companies about current cyber threats, network vulnerabilities, and recommended mitigations, and discuss crucial elements of an effective incident response plan.
When a victim reports a compromise, FBI agents help the organization’s network defenders pinpoint malicious cyber activity, share intelligence to help leaders make decisions during a crisis, and help prevent more damage. Our experts work with victims to arrest and prosecute cybercriminals as well as target the infrastructure the criminals used to conduct their attacks, to prevent them from continuing to inflict damage. The
FBI also has specialty teams whose aim is to freeze and seize the money cybercriminals steal from their victims.
Companies and organizations in the Philadelphia metro area and throughout the eastern half of Pennsylvania, as well as those in Camden, Gloucester, and Salem counties in New Jersey, can call 215-418-4000 to connect with FBI Philadelphia cyber squads or to report compromises.
- In addition to partnering with your local FBI office, companies should also take the following preventive steps:
- Update and patch operating systems and software.
- Implement robust access controls, especially for privileged users.
- Monitor security logs.
- Audit trusted third parties or others with access to systems and sensitive data.
- Require personnel to choose a strong, unique password for each account and use multifactor authentication for as many services as possible. Passwords should be changed regularly.
- Educate personnel about phishing schemes to highlight the risks of clicking on suspicious links, opening suspicious attachments, and visiting suspicious websites.
- Keep offline backups of data, and regularly test backup and restoration capabilities. Ensure all backup data is encrypted and immutable.
- Develop a cybersecurity incident response plan that includes the FBI. If compromised, contact the FBI immediately.
- Be aware of signs of cyber compromises, such as broken passwords, myriad pop ups, slow-running devices, altered system settings, or unexplained online activity.