Cybercrime – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – We’re locked. We masked ourselves. And we worked from home.

But while we’ve done everything to protect our health, most of us have exposed ourselves to another type of virus – cybercrime.

“All of this happens because someone like me works from home?”

The CBS 11 I team asked this question to Matthew DeSarno, the special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in North Texas.

He discussed ransomware with the I-Team.

DeSarno says it is “the single biggest problem facing cybercriminals right now.”

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report, complaints rose 69% from 2019 to 2020. The loss of money increased by approximately $ 700 million from $ 3.5 billion to $ 4.2 billion.

Did the pandemic cause this?

“The pandemic created an environment in which networks, corporate and / or government networks, or networks of educational systems that were relatively well controlled in centralized locations on corporate devices, have been decentralized,” says DeSarno.

More and more devices were connecting from home, connecting to networks and creating individual vulnerabilities for us.

Large networks across the country were subsequently exposed.

“Typically, the largest ransomware attacks are businesses, municipalities, local governments, hospitals, and school systems.” DeSarno says cyber thieves are the first to ask for money.

“The idea is like being kidnapped for a ransom.”

Next, the bad actors often raise the stakes and threaten to lose confidential information or worse.

The I-Team asked, “Is there a fear that the hospital lights will go out and the power will be turned off?” DeSarno says, “Yes.”

Desarno wouldn’t talk about specific cases, but he says it does so across the nation and in his entire North Texas jurisdiction.


In Florida, a hacker has tapped a water supply system that threatens to poison days before the 2021 Super Bowl.

The Boston parents panicked when a school suddenly locked its doors. The cybercriminal turned off email and turned off the phones. He held the system hostage.

The University of Colorado in Denver is one of many universities across the country that has been attacked by cyber thieves trying to blackmail students and schools. Stanford University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Miami have also been reportedly exposed to similar hacks.

Here in Texas, dozens of smaller communities have faced ransomware attacks. Cyber ​​thieves have asked mayors of places like Keene to pay millions or you will be shut down and your private information exposed. A spokesman for the Texas Department of Information Resources tells the I-Team that the investigation is still ongoing but “no ransom has been paid.”

The FBI says fear of the possibilities and concerns about branding is leading companies to keep quiet. Federal agents want victims to come forward and work with them immediately.

The Office of Court Administration issued a statement saying the Texas court system suffered a “serious security breach” during a ransomware attack.

Texas-based The Sewell Family of Companies warned their customers about a data breach on their website. The warning is no longer on Sewell’s website.

Dallas-based healthcare provider ProPath announced that a bad actor accessed email accounts that may contain names, dates of birth, medical information, and social security numbers.


“The ransomware actors get into the networks … through simple mistakes made by us like clicking on attachments,” says DeSarno.

According to the 2021 Webroot Bright Cloud, in March 2020 malicious email named “Zoom” increased 2000% in one month.

The report says that phishing URLs with YouTube, HBO, Netflix, and Twitch rose between 300% and 3000%.


– Take a close look at the address of incoming emails. You may think you know the person, but a letter or two might differ.

– Just don’t open attachments or links from sources you can’t verify.

– Do not post meeting notifications on public websites.

– Require passwords to attend online meetings.

– Always use two-factor authentication.

– Install all antivirus updates.

And here’s another reason to be careful and be aware of it.

Your employer may test you.

Many companies send test emails to see which employees click suspicious links.

When you receive a ransomware threat, the FBI says your first call should be to federal agents.

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