The FBI Charlotte Field Office has launched a cybersecurity awareness campaign to educate private sector businesses and organizations in North Carolina about the growing threat of cyberattacks. The Tar Heel state is home to Fortune 500 companies, numerous small businesses, Research Triangle Park, and world-renowned universities and colleges, making the state a target-rich environment for cybercriminals and nation-state actors. The FBI encourages organizations of all sizes to partner with their local FBI office before a cyber incident occurs.
The awareness campaign runs through September 2022 and will include media engagements, social media posts, and presentations to local businesses. FBI special agents will educate our partners about the following top 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 frequent targets of cyberattacks. In 2021, America’s critical infrastructure experienced an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks.
- Ransomware: Cybercriminals and nation-state actors breach private networks, deploy ransomware to encrypt victims’ data, and then demand ransom payments to unlock the encrypted data. When a ransomware incident occurs, swift communication with the FBI can positively impact data recovery efforts. The FBI does not recommend victims pay ransoms. Payment encourages more criminal activity and businesses will likely still suffer the consequences of a cyberattack.
- Supply Chain Attacks: A business’s cybersecurity is only as strong as that of its trusted vendors. Supply chains are increasingly a point of vulnerability for computer intrusions.
When a victim reports a compromise, FBI agents help pinpoint malicious cyber activity, share intelligence to help leaders make decisions during a crisis, and prevent more damage. Our experts work with victims to arrest and prosecute cybercriminals. The FBI also has specialty teams whose aim is to freeze and seize the money cybercriminals steal from their victims.
“We are uniquely equipped in North Carolina to help companies fight cybersecurity attacks. In addition to FBI agents, analysts, and computer scientists who track and counter emerging cyber threats, we enjoy robust partnerships with law enforcement and cybersecurity agencies throughout the state. We strive to educate and protect our residents and ensure that North Carolina remains safe and secure from cyberattacks,” said Charlotte FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert R. Wells.
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 backups of data offline, 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 compromises such as broken passwords, unexpected pop-ups, slow-running devices, altered system settings, or unexplained online activity.