How grant funding can assist in the battle against cybercrime

Funding sources are available to assist local police – an important component of effective cybercrime investigation – in the battle against cybercriminals

The nature of crime is changing. The typical criminal activities law enforcement agencies have been working against over the past few decades are being replaced with crimes that are more difficult to address, especially at the local level. Cybercrime is not only on the rise, but the ways it is perpetrated is increasing exponentially as well.

If you put a 10-year chart of Part One and Part Two crimes next to a 10-year chart of cybercrimes, they will appear as mirror images. As “regular” crime has decreased steadily with little exception in that time frame, cybercrime – in its many guises – has just as steadily risen. For the past three years, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers has ranked cybersecurity as its top priority.

From social media bullying to large-scale corporate espionage, the use of modern technology has expanded the scope of cybercriminal activities. As technology has improved, so has the ease of using it to commit crimes. Recent reports indicate that even drug dealers are trading in their street corners for computer terminals.

From social media bullying to large-scale corporate espionage, the use of modern technology has expanded the scope of cybercriminal activities.
From social media bullying to large-scale corporate espionage, the use of modern technology has expanded the scope of cybercriminal activities. (Photo/Pixabay)

Years ago, when I was a reporter, a concerned police chief lamented about one of his officers’ most time-consuming crime trends with a simple solution: “I wish everyone would just keep their damn garage doors closed.” Not the crime of the century, to be sure, but one that a lot of police time and money was spent on, and one that could be practically eliminated with a little education and community action.

Unfortunately, even as today’s consumers have been regularly advised to “close their garage doors” and protect their valuable personal information from falling into the wrong hands, cybercriminals are finding new and better ways to infiltrate internet security systems and bypass safeguards just as soon as they are implemented. Now instead of taking a lawn mower or breaking into a car, these criminals are taking something much more valuable: personal data and intellectual property. Research indicates that the cost of data breaches will reach over $2 trillion globally by 2019. 

both business and individuals are at risk from cyberattacks

It’s not just individuals who are at risk. A 2017 report states that less than half of all businesses in the U.S. have effective cyber security systems in place to combat cyberattacks on their computer systems. This includes banks, credit card companies, retail enterprises and others. When these businesses are hacked, it’s often individuals who counted on them to secure their personal information who are victimized as well. While the bank may take the hit for the initial financial loss, the victimization for the individual can last for years.

Cybercrime includes extortion and blackmail, cyberstalking, harassment, child predation hacking, malware, ransomware and cyber terrorism. Law enforcement is not immune to becoming a victim of cybercrime. In 2016, hackers targeted the Fraternal Order of Police in an attempt to access sensitive police data. Police departments have also experienced ransomware and cyberattacks

By its nature, cybercriminals and their victims can be located in different cities, states or even countries. This makes investigating these crimes even more challenging, especially at the local level.

law enforcement efforts to combat cybercrime

Local law enforcement is an important component of effective cybercrime investigation. Several federal agencies are spearheading the creation of task forces that include state and local law enforcement entities.

The FBI is involved with more than 90 computer crimes task forces across the country. Utilizing state-of-the-art technology specifically designed for cybercrime investigation, these task forces also rely on the valuable resources of their state and local partners.

A variety of grant funding is also becoming available to assist law enforcement agencies in responding to cybercrime. The Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Law Enforcement Cyber Center offers information on where to find funding, training and resources to learn about, investigate and solve cybercrimes.

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