Significant Speeches

Remarks of the Honorable David J. Hickton
United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania
At the International Prosecutors Working Group

National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance
Pittsburgh, PA
October 16, 2012

Thank you Eric (Strom), for that kind introduction.

I want to welcome all of you to Pittsburgh and say that I jumped at the invitation to speak to you.

The work you do together really matters. Cyber crime is now the top national priority and, as you have seen from recent news reports, it is being addressed throughout the highest levels of the United States government.

I often cite and refer to the testimony of FBI Director Mueller before Congress earlier this year as a full summary of the scope and breadth of the cyber threat we face.

Just last week, Defense Secretary Panetta issued a challenge to meet the real and present danger of the cyber threat. He urged a total cooperative commitment of the public and private sector resources and the development of new rules of engagement. Recent, coordinated attacks on the financial banking industry have prompted vigorous debate about cyber security legislation while illustrating our vulnerability.

Here in Western Pennsylvania, the cyber threats against the University of Pittsburgh last Spring served as a direct reminder that a free and open environment can be exploited by cyber criminals.

Cyber cases have an unmistakable transnational character. Increasingly our subjects and targets of investigations, once known and identified, are overseas; and, these cyber criminals rely upon the belief that they are beyond our reach.

Another challenge is that the rapidly developing technology exploited by cyber criminals can hinder detection and prosecution across international boundaries. The misuse of anonymity capacity and encryption, coupled with the slow platform of MLATs ill-suited for the cyber age, impairs the real time capture of critical digital direct and trace evidence.

That is why this forum is so important. We need to collaborate and cooperate. We need to accelerate the capacity to detect, investigate and prosecute to meet the present day challenge presented by these crimes. We need to recognize that cyber crime is not confined to national borders, a region, a territory or a class of crime.

We are united with you in this effort. In reorganizing my office two years ago, we created a dedicated National Security and Cyber group. I make this the first meeting of each new week, Monday at 9:00 AM. We treat our responsibilities in this realm broadly not just because important national resources like NCFTA, CERT and Cyber Task Forces headed by the FBI and USSS are here; but, because we have been led by the President and the Attorney General to address the present and future threat with all of the energy and imagination it deserves. My peer U.S. Attorneys have been leading this effort as well.

As testimony to the urgency of this work, we are convening a Cybersecurity Conference here on October 29. We aim to bring further attention to this threat; to educate the public about the threat profile and what we are doing about it; and, to forge new ideas and possibilities for essential collaboration. A copy of the Conference flyer has been supplied to you.

The threat is great and the consequences of failure are unacceptable. We must succeed.

Thank you.

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