By way of definition, cyber crimes are criminal offenses committed via the Internet or otherwise assisted by various forms of computer technology including online social networks.

Crimes include but are not limited to bullying, stalking, identity theft and sending sexually explicit photos by computer or smartphone — a pedophile’s paradise.

With the advent of the Internet and the rapid proliferation of smartphones, criminals of all description have come onboard to manipulate that media to their advantage.

The FBI leads a national effort to combat cyber (high-tech) crimes, including cyber-based terrorism, computer intrusions (hacking) and major cyber fraud. The FBI gathers and shares information worldwide with other national cyber crimes agencies. Additionally, the FBI conducts online predator and child exploitation investigations, which are managed by the Violent Crimes Against Children program.

Nearly every state has a state-level cyber crimes unit, which works together with the FBI in identifying and combating these crimes.

Of most interest to the average computer user are computer intrusions known as viruses, bots, worms, spyware, malware and hacking. Almost everyone who owns a computer has been exposed to at least one of these intrusive programs at some point.

Every day, criminals invade homes, offices and government agencies across America, not by breaking and entering, but by hacking into laptops, personal computers and wireless devices and inserting bits of malicious code.

The FBI estimates that billions of dollars are lost every year repairing systems that have been attacked.

But it’s more than money lost. Some attacks have taken down vital systems, including hospitals, 9-1-1 systems and banks around the country.

The electric grid of the United States continues to be the target of some foreign regimes.

Imagine the chaos created by the loss of electric power across the nation. Fortunately, individuals, businesses and government entities are fully aware of the potential threat and have taken steps to react to the threat by strategically positioning

Our national enemies are working full time to identify vulnerabilities in our vital systems for attack.

The FBI says a myriad of criminals are behind such attacks, from computer geeks looking for bragging rights to businesses hacking competitors to acquire information on goods and services.

The gamut runs from criminal rings determined to steal your personal information to spies and terrorists looking to rob the U.S. of military and other vital information or to launch cyber strikes.

The FBI also advises that in recent years, the nation has built a new and advanced set of capabilities and partnerships in the effort to identify and take down cyber criminals where they practice their trade. These include:

A Cyber Division at FBI Headquarters to address cyber crime in a coordinated and cohesive manner.

Specially trained cyber squads at FBI Headquarters and in every field office.

New Cyber Action Teams that travel around the globe at a moment’s notice to identify and investigate cyber crimes worldwide.

93 Computer Crimes Task Forces with state-of-the-art technology and resources located in field offices around the country.

A partnership with other federal agencies including the Department of defense, the Department of Homeland Security and others.

What you can do:

1. Keep and up-to-date computer intrusion prevention program on your PC, Mac or mobile device.

2. Limit personal information to sites and individuals you know and trust.

3. Subscribe to and monitor a credit monitoring program that alerts you to cyber fraud.

4. Keep your firewall turned on. This helps to protect you against hackers seeking to gain access to your computer content.

5. Install anti-spyware software.

6. Be careful of your downloads. Many spyware and malware codes can be imbedded in harmless-looking downloads.

7. Turn off your computer when not in use. Doing so effectively severs and attacker’s connection. Many users opt to keep computers on and ready for action. This is not a good practice.

Indictments

Margarito Rodriguez, Jr., 29, of Harker Heights was indicted April 13 by the Bell County grand jury on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon (repeat offender).

John Vander WERFF is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, with a decade in city and county law enforcement and 20 years with state police.

John Vander Werff is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement and a Copperas Cove resident.​

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