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Breaking Ground in the New Frontier


FBI Director Robert Mueller

Bots. Worms. Spoofing. Phishing. Cyber terrorism and espionage. Malware. Hacking. Virtual copyright and identify theft. Online child exploitation. Internet scams and spam.

Crime has a new frontier—the vast, digitized realm of wired and wireless communications. And for the FBI, it’s meant building a whole new set of technological and investigative capabilities and partnerships—so we’re as comfortable chasing outlaws in cyberspace as we are down back alleys and across continents.

Last week, Director Robert Mueller and FBI Cyber exec Steve Martinez traveled to Silicon Valley to talk about these growing capabilities and partnerships. The venue: the annual RSA Security Conference, which brings together thousands of representatives from technology companies and their customers to discuss cyber security issues.

In his keynote address at a town hall meeting sponsored by the Business Software Alliance, the Director spelled out key capacities and new initiatives that are helping us address cyber threats:

  • A new Cyber Division at FBI Headquarters “to address cyber crime in a coordinated and cohesive manner”;
  • Specially trained cyber squads at FBI headquarters and in each of our 56 field offices, staffed with “agents and analysts who protect against investigate computer intrusions, theft of intellectual property and personal information, child pornography and exploitation, and online fraud”;
  • New Cyber Action Teams that “travel around the world on a moment’s notice to assist in computer intrusion cases” and that “gather vital intelligence that helps us identify the cyber crimes that are most dangerous to our national security and to our economy;”
  • Our 93 Computer Crimes Task Forces nationwide that “combine state-of-the-art technology and the resources of our federal, state, and local counterparts”;
  • A growing partnership with the U.S. Secret Service—which with we share federal jurisdiction for fighting cyber crime—through its nationwide network of electronic crimes task forces.

As a result, the Director said the FBI continues to “break new ground in the investigation and prosecution of cyber criminals.” He cited some recent examples, including:

  • The arrest of 20-year-old hacker Jeanson James Ancheta, a well-known member of the botmaster underground, who pled guilty last month to “seizing control of hundreds of Internet-connected computers and renting the network to people who mounted attacks on websites”;
  • Within two weeks’ time, the capture of the cyber criminals responsible for creating and spreading the Mytob and Zotob worms, thanks to the help of law enforcement officials from Turkey and Morocco and to the intelligence provided by private sector partners.

The Director’s final message to cyber professionals: report your security breaches and alert us to pending threats so we can work together to head off cyber attacks. The Director said he realized some companies fear possible negative publicity and loss of marketplace competitiveness if they do so, but he indicated that the FBI will minimize disruptions to their businesses and guard proprietary or confidential information.

Resources: FBI Cyber Investigations