CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Reported internet-related losses increased by over seven million dollars between 2021 and 2022 for Wyoming citizens and businesses, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
“Wyoming resident losses from scams and other cybercrimes are increasing by millions of dollars a year, according to the FBI,” said Patrick Wolfinbarger, cofounder of CyberWyoming and the CyberWyoming Alliance.
In 2020, Wyoming’s reported losses were $5,096,704 and in 2021 reported losses doubled to $10,249,609, yet in 2022 the figure jumped to $17,980,141, about $31 for every citizen of the state.
The top categories of losses for Wyoming victims in 2022 were investment scams at $4,750,670, business email compromise at $2,509,854, tech support scams at $1,723,107 and non-payment/non-delivery at $1,450,692.
Most concerning given Wyoming’s economic opportunity for growth in blockchain and cryptocurrency were the additional descriptors of crime types including cryptocurrency wallet losses at $10,038,138 and cryptocurrency scams at $1,652,095. These crime types could be combined with other crime categories.
In 2021, Wyoming’s 50 and older age group accounted for 51% of the losses, with 60 and older losses totaling $4,498,432, but in 2022 this age group reported losses of $5,940,116 at just 33% of the total statewide losses.
According to the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s 2022 “Oh Behave! The annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report,” individual behavior leading to sloppy cyber habits is the most tumultuous variable in cybersecurity. The report cites the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, saying 82% of breaches and security incidents relate to human factors.
Examples of sloppy cyber habits in the report include choosing passwords under 12 characters (84% of study participants); 43% had never heard of multi-factor authentication, where people get a text, email, or use an app to verify it is really them; and 40% reported a lack of motivation to act securely online. 48% felt that protecting themselves online would be too expensive.
“Many people don’t know that their Wi-Fi router has more than one password,” Wolfinbarger said. “There is an administrative password and the Wi-Fi password. A lot of people don’t know that the admin password is published widely. Overall, security skills are life skills.”
When asked whose responsibility it is to protect workplace information, 38% of participants felt they were least responsible while 43% felt it was the employer’s responsibility.
“This statistic continues to boggle our minds at CyberWyoming. While it seems to be a bit better from 2021, how can data used day to day by an employee be the employer’s responsibility to protect?” Wolfinbarger said.
Free programs that anyone in Wyoming can take advantage of are subscribing to the CyberWyoming Alliance Hacker’s Brief, which is a weekly report of scams seen in Wyoming as reported by Wyomingites.
Statistics show that prior knowledge of a scam reduces the chances of a potential victim engaging with the scammer.
In addition, Wyoming AARP and the CyberWyoming Alliance publish senior alert flyers for two-thirds of the senior centers statewide as a free service, based off of the Wyoming reports of scams.
Businesses can engage with Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Business to gain human focused, risk-based security training. The competition is built for those small organizations that do not have information technology help.
This year’s competition began on Feb. 1, and registration continues through May 1. The competition ends on Aug. 1 and the winners speak at Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference and receive cash prizes. The competition now offers up to 35 CLE or CPE credits for completing the program.
“It is important that our professional services industry is supported in their efforts to become cybersecure,” Wolfinbarger said. “That’s what this competition is all about, providing the support to tackle information security and cyber risks.”
The competition is sponsored by community-minded companies and organizations including Campbell County Health, Capitol Communications, Casper College, Cheyenne State Bank, Computer Professionals Unlimited, DigeTekS, EvnTec, Factory IT, First Federal Bank and Trust, Gannett Peak Technical Services, HUB International, IECA, K2 Technologies, PDS, Rocky Mountain Cybersecurity, Sweetwater Technology Services, Team Networks and Wyoming Manufacturing Works. A grant from the Gula Tech Foundation also made the competition possible.
To participate in the competition, business owners or managers can register at www.cyberwyoming.org/competition/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment to discuss how to become cybersecure.
CyberWyoming is responsible for monitoring efforts to meet best practices and helping the business owners document their progress. The final step is submitting the documentation to the judges, chosen by local economic development agencies.