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Cybercrime is the use of a computer to further illegal activities like fraud, trafficking in child pornography or intellectual property, stealing identities, denial of service attacks against servers and systems, or acts of cyberterrorism. As the world becomes increasingly digital, crimes related to the Internet are gaining in scope and impact. From phishing and ransomware to data breaches, the costs of cybercrime are significant for businesses, organizations and individuals. Damage to investor perception can lead to a drop in share prices, while businesses that fail to protect customer information face lawsuits and higher borrowing rates.

The global nature of the Internet makes it difficult to track and prosecute criminals. However, just as a person walking on the ground leaves clues for a skilled tracker to follow, so too do hackers leave behind electronic tracks that investigators can pursue. This makes it critical that all members of an investigative team have a defined role and that they work well together.

A wide range of federal agencies deal with cybercrime. These include the FBI’s Cyber Division and Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. A number of local, state and county police departments also handle cybercrime investigations, particularly those involving data breaches or ransomware. Private companies can mitigate the impact of cyberattacks by using a defense-in-depth approach to protecting systems, networks and data, such as backing up data regularly. Network segmentation can also help improve operational performance and safeguard vulnerable devices.