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Internet Safety

Special Feature

Overview

Internet Safety

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 467,361 complaints in 2019—an average of nearly 1,300 every day—and recorded more than $3.5 billion in losses for individual and business victims of cybercrime.

The 2019 figures represent the highest number of complaints and the highest dollar losses reported since IC3 was established in May 2000. The most frequently reported complaints were phishing and similar ploys, nonpayment or nondelivery scams, and extortion.

Malicious cyber actors across the world target U.S. citizens, businesses, and military and government entities every day. As evidenced by the 2019 FBI data, these cybercriminals cause billions of dollars in losses, making cybercrime a continued threat for law enforcement.

The “dark web” has emerged as an important hub of criminal commerce, a fully functional marketplace where hidden customers can buy from hidden sellers with relative confidence, often with customer ratings available, just as on the public-facing web. A report supported by the National Institute of Justice, Taking on the Dark Web: Law Enforcement Experts ID Investigative Needs, explores better ways for law enforcement to investigate dark web crimes.

With support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Law Enforcement Cyber Center (LECC) serves as a central online resource to meet the needs of police chiefs, investigators, line officers, digital forensic examiners, and other practitioners. The LECC enhances the awareness, expands the education, and builds the capacity of justice and public safety professionals toward the global goal of combating high-tech crimes.

Among the victims most vulnerable to criminal acts on the internet are children and teenagers. It is easy for people to misrepresent themselves and manipulate others online, making it critical to teach children they must be careful about the information that they share online and the sites that they visit.

Through programs such as the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Program, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, OJP is working to help law enforcement agencies develop effective responses to online crimes against children, including technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation.

In September 2020, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) launched the Safety Pledge campaign to combat online child exploitation. The initiative provides free resources to help parents, educators, and caregivers learn about the risks children face online and how to respond. NCMEC also offers an online safety education program, NetSmartzKids, which provides age-appropriate activities to help teach children how to be safer online.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an opportunity for reviewing best practices in protecting personal information online and learning how to best ensure that you and your loved ones are safe online.

Visit the following pages for additional information and resources from OJP and other federal sources: