2021 Shows Significant Increases in Cyber Losses for Wyoming

LARAMIE – Reported internet related losses more than doubled between 2020 and 2021 for Wyoming citizens and businesses, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

In 2020, Wyoming’s reported losses were $5,096,704 and in 2021 reported losses totaled $10, 249,609, about $17.71 for every citizen of the State. The top categories of losses in 2021 were corporate data breach at $1,150,000, ransomware at $1,400,000, and investment scams at $1,910,987.

Most concerning given Wyoming’s aging population is total losses for the 50+ age group accounted for 51 percent of the losses, with 60+ losses totaling $4,498,432.

Why did losses increase so much between 2020 and 2021?

According Proofpoint’s State of the Phish 2021 report, pandemic fatigue and user risk has exacerbated losses as employees reported experiencing higher amounts of work-related stress and an increase in physical fatigue including higher levels of cognitive awareness and emotional exhaustion. The report went on to say that technical jargon will increase this level of fatigue.

“In President Biden’s recent warning about the possibility of a Russian cyberattack on critical infrastructure, he said it was our “patriotic duty” to invest as much as we can to improve technological defenses” said Patrick Wolfinbarger, Co-Founder of CyberWyoming. “But even with tons of technological investment, we have to remember that our organizations are only as strong as each person in the organization. For every company, the challenge is constant vigilance when it comes to cyberattacks and ransomware attacks. But even with that vigilance, companies can’t eliminate their risks, but they can reduce the impact if something happens,”

The prevalence of remote work may also be a factor. Proofpoint’s report also pointed out that only 60% of workers surveyed said they password protected their home Wi-Fi network. Yet, 82 percent of organizations employees are working remotely either full or part time, but only 37 percent of the same organizations train their employees about best practices for remote working.

“Many people don’t know that their Wi-Fi router has more than one password,” said Wolfinbarger. “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.”

Wyomingites can take action!

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. (Exposed to Scams: What separates victims from non-victims? BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, Stanford Center on Longevity and Finra Investor Education Foundation. Published September 2019). In addition, Wyoming AARP and the CyberWyoming Alliance publish senior alert flyers for 2/3 of the senior center statewide as a free service, based off of the Wyoming reports of scams.

Businesses can engage with Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses to gain free human focused, risk-based security training. The competition is built for those small businesses who do not have information technology help. It began on Feb. 1 and registration continues through May 15. The competition ends on Aug 15 and the winners speak at Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Conference at UW’s Blockchain Stampede on Sept. 23, which touted 800 in person attendees in 2021.

Photo from PxHere

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 cyber secure,” said Wolfinbarger..  “That’s what this competition is all about, providing the support to tackle information security and cyber risks.”

The competition is free due to community minded companies and organizations including Campbell County Health, Capitol Communications, Cheyenne State Bank, Computer Professionals Unlimited (CPU), DigeTekS, EvnTec, Factory IT, First Federal Bank & Trust, First Interstate Bank, Gannett Peak Technical Services, Hub Insurance, IECA, K2 Technologies, PDS, Sweetwater Technology Services, Team Networks, and Wyoming Manufacturing Works.  A donation from Microsoft, grant funding from the Department of Workforce services, and collaboration with Casper College’s Cybersecurity program also made the competition possible.

To participate in the competition, business owners or managers can contact info@cyberwyoming.org to get a copy of the intent to participate form and make an appointment to discuss how to become cyber secure.  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. View information about Wyoming’s Cybersecurity Competition for Small Businesses at www.cyberwyoming.org/competition.


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