Federal Law Enforcement Highlight Cyber Threat

November 1, 2012

The following post appears courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington

Speaking at the 2012 Cybercrime Conference hosted by U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan of the Western District of Washington, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco, reiterated to an audience that threats posed through cyberspace are expected – in the not too distant future – to become the number one threat to our nation’s security.

In the lead panel entitled “Cyberthreats and National Security: A Convergence,” Assistant Attorney General Monaco described how the internet is being used not only to facilitate bomb plots and other terrorist operations targeting the United States, but is also being used for espionage and cyber intrusions aimed at obtaining American economic, commercial or trade secrets. 

Assistant Attorney General Monaco:

“There is no such thing as a local cybercrime. The hacker has probably touched three continents before he skims your bank account.”

U.S. Attorney Durkan spoke about the evolving threat of cybercrime, and about the steps taken by the Justice Department and their international partners:

“Cyber threats are rapidly evolving.  They impact our daily lives, our economy and our personal and national security.  We will use every means to detect, disrupt and defend against this growing problem. Fortunately, we are bringing the right people with better tools to the fight.  To confront the cyber threats we need to ensure that law enforcement, private industry and our international partners are sharing information, working together and coordinating responses.” 

Both Hugh Dunleavy, Deputy Assistant Director of the U.S. Secret Service, and James Burrell, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, described how “hackers for hire” can be used by nation states to attack the U.S. and American industries.  Most of the data breaches occur through servers and more than two-thirds of the breaches are traced to hackers in Europe.  All the members of the panel agreed it is critical to have international relations in place to be able to investigate and prosecute cyber criminals.

U.S. Attorney Durkan is Chair of a department committee on Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement.  The Cybercrime Conference is an annual event bringing together leaders in technology from the private sector, government and law enforcement.

The conference, held in Seattle last week, was attended by more than 200 people and touched on a variety of issues.  Some of the panel discussions are summarized here:

In Privacy Under Attack: Government or Industry, and the Need for a Privacy Bill of Rights, five experienced panelists discussed the changing landscape of privacy rights and protections in an age dominated by social media and mobile devices filled with apps that collect users’ personal information.  While the panelists all agreed that “Big Data” is a modern reality, they debated how to best maximize its uses while minimizing intrusions on personal privacy.  The debate included a robust discussion of how and when consumers should be notified that their information is being gathered, and how their consent should be obtained to use that information.

In Computer Searches in the New Millennium: the Collision between the Fourth Amendment and Computer Forensics, the panel reviewed the Ninth Circuit’s landmark decision in United States v. Comprehensive Drug Testing, and debated the need for special rules governing the execution of search warrants on computers, and whether such rules are required under the Fourth Amendment.  The panel also discussed the efficacy and practicality of such rules in the context of computer forensics.

In Getting Ahead: Joint Cooperation in Response to and Prevention of Cyberthreats, panelists discussed implementing better methods of sharing information between researchers, law enforcement, and industry in an effort to assist in identifying threats, mitigating the harm caused by cyberattacks, and bringing the wrongdoers to justice, with a special focus on several of the practical and legal limitations on such information sharing. 

For more information on cyber crime, visit the FBI Cyber Crime Information web page or File a Complaint with the Internet Crimes Complaint Center.