Cyber-criminals are creating much “more focused and tailored attacks,” according to the CEO of a cyber-security company in Virginia.

“It’s much more sophisticated than in the past,” said Waylon Krush, CEO of Lunarline Inc. “Everyone has upped their game.”

Recently in Delaware County, Liberty Township and the Big Walnut Local School District have reported being the victims of apparent online crimes.

Liberty Township discovered a forged $134,000 township check that was cashed in England. Township officials believe the incident was completely done online. Last week, State Auditor Dave Yost, a former Delaware County prosecutor, held a press conference at the Statehouse in Columbus to warn local governments about the rising number of cyber-attacks.

According to Krush, cyber-criminals know how to find all the information online to create official-looking documents.

“Scammers can be very good at what they do,” said Kate Hanson, public information officer for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. “They can be very detailed and persuasive.”

The Big Walnut district was the victim of an email phishing scam that caused an employee to transfer $38,520 to an unknown person. Email received by the employee appeared to come from the employee’s boss.

Krush said the “Big CEO Scheme” is the newest cyber-scam targeting company executives. “There’s a possibility (cyber-criminals) are mining social media sites to find out who everyone is in a company,” he said, “and then making emails look as if they come from the company’s server.”

“For every scam reported, there are many more that go unreported,” Hanson said.

Catching cyber-criminals and recovering lost funds has become highly unlikely.

“A lot of scams don’t originate in Ohio,” Hanson said. “Since they are out of the state or country, it’s often difficult to recover the money.”

Big Walnut and Liberty Township’s accounts are with the Delaware County Bank. In both cases, the funds were replaced by the bank.

The Gazette contacted the Ohio Department of Commerce to learn if there had been other reports of banks replacing funds because of cyber-crimes.

“Banks are not required to report (cyber-crimes) to the Ohio Department of Commerce,” said Karrie Francis, a spokeswoman for the department.

Krush said cyber-crimes are on the rise but many go unreported. “Just the numbers people have reported is in the billions,” Krush said.

Krush said cyber-criminals are creating “cyber-bots” to crawl the web and look for information. “Don’t store passwords on a desktop,” he said.

For protection against cyber-crimes, Krush said he advises against using the same password for social media and bank accounts.

Krush told The Gazette that after his name appears in this article, “I’ll get 50 emails,” he said. “The more a name is published, the better the chances of being attacked.”

The best protection companies and local governments have against cyber-crimes is awareness and training. “Making sure employees know this is going on,” Krush said. “The cheapest way is to make sure your people are trained.”

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin