ATLANTA – Cyber crimes are one of the biggest complaints and concerns officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Atlanta office handle.
“Ransomware groups are causing more destruction, increasing their ransom demands and impacting our economy more than ever,” explained FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Keri Farley.
SAC Farley said the FBI currently has more than 100 active investigations into different ransomware variants across the country.
To help address the problem, the FBI wants to build bridges with companies before they fall victim.
“The one thing we’ve learned here in the FBI is that the key to combating this issue is to have strong relationships with companies and their executive teams prior to a problem hitting,” said SAC Farley.
The issue has been front and center for some Georgia companies.
In 2021, Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline suffered a ransomware attack that led to gasoline shortages up and down the East Coast.
Equifax headquarters in Atlanta. (FOX 5)
Headquartered in Atlanta, credit reporting company Equifax was the victim of a data breach in 2017. Equifax Chief Information Security Officer Jamil Farshchi said they had established a partnership with the FBI before that incident, which helped them work together to investigate it.
“There are 8 billion people on this planet and through the information exchange and the hard work that these folks did, they were able to narrow it down to four specific individuals,” Farshchi explained.
In January 2020, the U.S. government indicted four members of China’s military for the hack that exposed the personal information of 147 million people.
“Don’t wait until after the breach,” said Farshchi. “If you establish that relationship up front, you’re going to be in a far better place ’cause you’ll be able to help prepare for that inevitable attack and that’s what we had done, which allowed us to be able to have a really nice runway and collaborative relationship with as it happened instead of starting from scratch right at the moment that it was a hair on fire situation.”
The FBI also encouraged businesses to reach out to them as quickly as possible after a hacking or ransomware incident.
“It’s critical that people come to us as soon as they can because we can then take the information that the companies have and use that in our investigations to find the people who are responsible for this,” said Supervisory Special Agent Chad Hunt. “Because the same groups and individuals continue to victimize people across the world and in the U.S.”
If you believe you have become the victim of a cyber crime, you can file a complaint at IC3.gov.