KANSAS CITY (KSNT) – October is cybersecurity awareness month. Everyone from educators to government agencies are pushing the importance of online safety.

27 News met up with Homeland Security Investigations to discuss the work they’re doing to combat cyber related crimes in the state.

“The most important thing we can do as a parent is to ensure that our children and our elderly are not getting themselves in situations that they can get taken advantage of,” Homeland Security Investigations agent Scott Titus said. “Unfortunately, these situations rapidly evolve, and before they know it it’s something that has gone too far and they don’t know how to get out of.“ 

Over the summer, Homeland Security Investigations Kansas City Launched operation Blue Ghost.

“During that operation, we arrested 32 individuals across Kansas and Missouri who were trying to meet up with and sexually exploit or entice an underage minor female,” Titus said. “What we are finding is so many young people are constantly connected, they don’t realize who they’re talking to and how fast they’re talking to them, and how quickly those situations devolve into something terrible.” 

The threat of cyber crimes is omnipresent. Just Friday, an HSI Spokesperson announced a Missouri man was sentenced to life in prison for sexual exploitation of a child. According to the press release, the man asked the victim in Facebook Messenger chats to send him sexually explicit images and videos.

“Child exploitation is without a doubt in my opinion one of the agencies more premier areas of investigation,” Titus said. “We prioritize it, we prioritize victimization crimes across the board, which is the reason child exploitation gets so much attention, and cyber awareness is something we’re always out trying to talk about.” 

When it comes to monitoring your child’s online activity, the agent recommends the trust but check method. Trust what they’re telling you, while checking on their social media to ensure they aren’t in situation they don’t know how to get out of.

If you find a loved one in a cyber crime related incident, the agent recommends reaching out the to Homeland Security Investigations Tip line at 866-347-2423.