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Defending Against Cybercriminals

October 2011 National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Today’s world is more interconnected than ever before. Yet, for all its advantages, increased connectivity brings increased risk of theft, fraud, and abuse. During National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its partners from the public and private sector are highlighting the importance of protecting against cyber crime.

As Americans become more reliant on modern technology, we also become more vulnerable to cyber attacks such as:

  • Corporate Security Breaches: The majority of corporate security breaches occur when hackers exploit employees through social engineering and scams.
  • Spear Phishing: Hackers target employees through emails that appear to be from colleagues within their own organizations, allowing cyber criminals to steal personal information.
  • Social Media Fraud: Cyber criminals increasingly using social media to engage in identity theft and entice individuals to download malicious code or reveal passwords.

To address the evolving threats and increased risks of cyber crimes, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) works directly with public and private partners to enhance cybersecurity. Through the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) as well as the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), DHS works to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy amongst all Internet users.

DHS also collaborates with the financial and other critical infrastructure sectors to improve network security. Additionally, DHS components, such as the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have special divisions dedicated to fighting cyber crime:

The Secret Service maintains Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs), which focus on identifying and locating international cyber criminals connected to cyber intrusions, bank fraud, data breaches, and other computer-related crimes. The Secret Service’s Cyber Intelligence Section has directly contributed to the arrest of transnational cyber criminals responsible for the theft of hundreds of millions of credit card numbers and the loss of approximately $600 million to financial and retail institutions. The Secret Service also runs the National Computer Forensic Institute, which provides law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges with cyber training and information to combat cyber crime.

ICE’s Cyber Crimes Center (C3) works to prevent cyber crime and solve cyber incidents. From the C3 Cyber Crime Section, ICE identifies sources for fraudulent identity and immigration documents on the Internet. C3's Child Exploitation Section investigates large-scale producers and distributors of child pornography, as well as individuals who travel abroad for the purpose of engaging in sex with minors.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and each of us has a role to play in making it safer, more secure and resilient. For more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month or the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect and Cybersecurity.

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