With staggering financial losses to cyber-crime mounting daily, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is urging all citizens to be wary when using the Internet (Image courtesy of the FBI).
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has the dubious distinction of ranking among the top ten U.S. states in terms of public vulnerability to cyber-crime.
That’s the conclusion of analysis of data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation by online security experts from VPNPro.
That nationwide ranking of U.S. states found Utah in ninth place among the 50 states, with losses amounting to nearly $100 million in 2022.
The VPNPro researchers pouring over the 2022 report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) found that 4,325 Utahns fell victim to cyber-crime that year, with individual losses averaging more than $23,000 per incident.
While undoubtedly serious, Utah’s incidence of cybercrime can’t hold a candle to that reported in the states of Alabama, New York and Massachusetts. Those states that were listed as first, second and third in the VPNPro ranking.
Nearly 5,000 residents of Alabama lost about $250 million, for an average lost of more than $50,000 per incident.
In New York, more than 25,000 residents were victimized for an average loss of more than $30,000 each, for a combined loss to cyber-crime of more than $775 million.
With losses of nearly $29,000 each, more than 7,800 residents of Massachusetts lost a combined total of more than $225 million.
Completing the top ten ranking were the states of South Dakota, California, Kansas, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut and, of course, Utah.
Cyber-crime is by no means limited to those states, however.
The FBI’s staff at IC3 received a total of 800,944 reported complaints in 2022, with losses exceeding $10.3 billion. While that number was actually a 5 percent decrease in reported incidents from 2021, dollar losses actually increased by an alarming 49 percent.
Phishing schemes were the number one crime type with 300,497 complaints. But, for the first time, investment schemes reported the highest financial loss to victims.
Victims aged 30-39 were the largest reporting group, while the greatest dollar loss was incurred by citizens aged 60 and older.
“Cyber-enabled crime has been around for many years,” said David Nanz, an FBI special agent in charge of the bureau’s field office in Springfield, MA. “But the methods used by perpetrators continue to increase in scope and sophistication emanating from around the world.”
The FBI says that cyber-criminals continue to plague Americans by targeting U.S. networks, attacking critical infrastructure, holding money and data for ransom, facilitating large-scale fraud schemes and threatening national security.
While phishing ranked as the number one cyber crime, the associated dollar loss of $52 million is small in comparison to investment fraud that resulted in a $3.3 billion loss— increasing a staggering 127% from the previous year.
Within those complaints, crypto-currency investment fraud rose from $907 million in 2021 to $2.57 billion in 2022, with the most targeted age group reporting this type of scam being 30-49.
“Online scams are a major issue for all internet users,” according to cybersecurity expert Šarūnas Karbauskas from VPNPro, “especially with the festive season coming up.
“Criminals will look to take advantage of an influx of activity and will target those who are especially vulnerable to theft.”
Prime targets are older people, who are likely to be unfamiliar with cyber-crime warnings signs like typos in a brand’s name, deals that are too good to be true and suspicious pop-up ads.
“It’s crucial that you don’t give out your personal information unless you’re absolutely sure who’s asking,” Karbauskas adds.
That will be particularly true during the binge shopping madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, VPNPro warns.
VPNPro is an international online service that promotes cyber security not just from criminals, but also from tech companies, internet service providers and government agencies, all of which have the capability to monitor your every move.
A virtual private network is a perfect tool to keep your data safe and privacy intact, according to VPNPro.
For more information regarding virtual private networks, go online to https://vpnpro.com.