- Attorney General Ashley Moody has launched a Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit in Florida to combat illicit online activities.
- More than 42,000 Floridians lost upwards of $844 million to cybercrime last year, prompting the need for a dedicated team to investigate and prevent such crimes.
- The unit will consist of criminal and civil attorneys working alongside the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to identify cybercrimes overlooked by federal authorities.
Attorney General Ashley Moody announced the launch of a Cyber Fraud Enforcement Unit this week to address illicit online activities.
During a press conference, Moody stated that more than 42,000 Floridians lost upwards of $844 million to cybercrime last year, prompting the need for a dedicated team to investigate and potentially stop such crimes.
The unit will consist of criminal and civil attorneys from the Florida Attorney General’s Office, who will work alongside the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and its analysts to identify cybercrimes that might be overlooked by federal authorities.
“As online crime increases, the enforcement gap continues to grow as federal agencies often focus attention on cases involving multimillion-dollar losses,” said Moody. “Noticing this gap in enforcement, I worked with legislative leaders and our law enforcement partners to build a team of expert attorneys to help fill that void and protect Floridians from emerging high-tech schemes.”
The unit’s formation also comes concurrent with proliferating ransomware attacks against municipalities, hospitals, and utilities, becoming a mushrooming concern with Florida institutions.
This week, Tampa General Hospital (TGH), one of Florida’s largest hospitals, announced that it suffered from a cybersecurity breach between May 12 and May 30, disclosing that an unauthorized third party accessed TGH’s network and obtained patient information.
Meanwhile, HCA Healthcare, which has 46 hospitals in Florida, disclosed last week that approximately 11 million individuals nationwide may have had their personal information compromised by an identified data leak. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched an investigation into a suspected ransomware attack against Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare in April that reportedly compromised the personal data of more than 20,000 individuals.
“FDLE’s cyber fraud team will help keep Florida citizens safe by investigating and stopping these pervasive crimes,” said FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass. “Our analysts are on the frontlines researching cybercrime and criminal organizations, identifying the players, learning how these crimes work, and who is being victimized.”
The cybersecurity efforts announced by Moody also serve as a continuation of years-long funding allocations to bolster online security scapes. In the 2022 budget signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, he included $37.5 million to boost the state’s cybersecurity systems.
According to the Governor’s Office, the money was allocated to state agencies to enhance cybersecurity and protect Floridians from “cyber threats that can compromise critical state resources and sensitive information.”
More than $30 million of the overall $37.5 million cybersecurity allocation was implemented in contribution to initiatives recommended by the Florida Cybersecurity Taskforce, including the establishment of the Florida Digital Service within the Department of Management Services (DMS) to address cyber threats and increase cybersecurity training and resources at state agencies.