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Exclusive: FBI warns of increased cyber-threats against Northeast Ohio businesses

FBI believes attacks may be Russian retaliation for sanctions
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Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 16, 2022

CLEVELAND — The FBI is warning businesses and critical infrastructure to be on high alert for cyber-threats and cyber-attacks in Northeast Ohio.

“We are experiencing a higher volume in terms of what we see as possible threats,” said Eric Smith, Special Agent in Charge, Cleveland FBI.

The FBI is on a mission to get the message out to local businesses.

“It’s not just the traditional attacks that we’ve seen in the past, but also the increase in particularly what we think might be retaliatory attacks by Russia as response to our sanctions,” added Smith.

FBI agents and analysts are meeting with business owners. They’re also getting the information out through InfraGard. InfraGard is a partnership between the FBI and the private sector for the protection of U.S. critical infrastructure. InfraGard connects critical infrastructure owners with the FBI for education, networking, and information-sharing on security threats and risks.

“We’re talking about the target that’s on the back of just about any business,” said Tony Pietrocola, InfraGard member and owner of AgileBlue, a Cleveland-based cybersecurity firm.

“We’re seeing just about everybody having something. It doesn’t mean they’ve been hacked, but the attempts are there, the tries are there and depending on the type of business, from health care to financial services — even more supply chain,” said Pietrocola.

“For those folks who have not experienced an intrusion or attack, I would say it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” said Smith. “It’s better to patch the roof when the sun is shining, so folks need to take this very seriously and they need to get after it now. If they don’t have a robust IT infrastructure, it’s time to invest in one, “said Smith.

If a cyber-attack occurs at a northern Ohio business, Smith said it is crucial for that business to go to www.ic3.gov to file a report as well as call the FBI immediately, because time is critical.

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