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FIGHTING CYBER CRIME
FBI Exec Tells All (Well, Not Quite)

12/07/05

Lou ReigelLou Reigel, head of our Cyber Division, met with the press Wednesday to brief them on our role in investigating cyber crimes—one of our top priorities. He talked about issues ranging from intellectual property rights and cyber terrorism…to Internet intrusions, Katrina scams, and the recent Sober worm attack.

Last month's Sober worm attack, which masqueraded as an e-mail from the FBI or CIA, notified readers around the world that they'd visited illegal websites and instructed them to download an attachment. Once downloaded, the attachment unleashed a malicious program into computers that sent out similar bogus e-mails. Reigel said the e-mails, many of which went to invalid addresses, bounced back to the FBI as undeliverable.

Reigel said he's optimistic the source of the malicious code—reportedly the third largest attack in 2005—will be uncovered. "We have enough information where we can pursue a logical investigation," he said.

Here's what else Reigel talked about:

  • Hurricane Katrina Scams: Some 6,000 websites have been developed to solicit funds since Hurricane Katrina—and some are bogus. We've opened 98 investigations into scams. Five or six cases have already been adjudicated. In one case, a con artist posed as a pilot seeking donations to help him pay for flights to hurricane stricken areas on mercy missions.
  • Intellectual property on agenda in China: Reigel visited Beijing in November—the first such high-level trip by an FBI cyber official. He described seeing warehouses full of counterfeit goods that would trick the most discerning consumer. "I do think the Chinese are making progress on combating this problem," Reigel said. "It's a long term issue."
  • Computer intrusions: At any given time, agents and analysts are investigating 500 major intrusion cases—the Cyber Division's top priority. Many cases reach beyond U.S. borders, where our Legal Attachés, or Legats, work with local authorities in foreign countries to aid our investigations. "We're relying heavily on our Legats and their relationships with international partners," he said. Reigel said the InfraGard program, which enlists the business community to help fight intrusions by confidentially reporting them to the FBI, has been very successful. But he still sees reluctance to come forward by CEOs, fearing they will expose their company's vulnerability to competitors or shareholders.
  • Innocent Images: We have some 2,400 child porn cases ongoing. Our field agents develop and pursue the cases, aided by state and local law enforcement. Our efforts reach internationally; in January, Russia will place its own investigator in the Innocent Images program. "We want to try to get them into the loop," Reigel said.
  • Cyber Terrorism: Reigel acknowledged that since 9/11 terrorists have become much more sophisticated at using the Internet to their ends, but said he's not aware of any major organized attempts to launch cyber attacks against the U.S.

For more information on our full range of cyber initiatives, successes, and capabilities, see our Cyber Investigations webpage.