Thank you, Leslie [Caldwell], for that very kind introduction, and thank you all for being here this morning. While I’m eager to talk about the important cyber security issues you’ve come here to discuss, I’d first like to address the ongoing situation in Baltimore and the actions that we here at the department are taking to address it. I have been in direct contact with officials in Maryland, including the Governor and I have directed this department to provide any assistance that might be helpful in restoring calm and resolving the unrest that broke out across the city. I also want to express my deepest condolences to the family of Freddie Gray. The Civil Rights Division and the FBI are already conducting a full and independent investigation into the tragic death of Mr. Gray. And both the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and the Community Relations Service have been working to defuse tensions as that process continues. Vanita Gupta, head of the department’s Civil Rights Division and Ronald Davis, director of the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), are meeting with faith and community leaders in Baltimore and they visited a police officer last night who remains hospitalized after being injured in the conflict. They told me he seemed to be in good spirits and I want to convey my best wishes for his speedy recovery.
I want to make clear once again that these senseless acts of violence are not only a grave danger to the community – and they must stop – but they are also counterproductive to the ultimate goal here, which is developing a respectful conversation within the Baltimore community and across the nation about the way our law enforcement officers interact with the residents they are charged to serve and protect. That is a conversation that I am committed to advancing. I am heartened that the unrest seemed to ease last night and that members of the community are trying to come together to clean up their city and I am hopeful that progress will continue in the coming days.
Let me add something else. As we watch events unfold in Baltimore, it is easy to view Baltimore as a symbol of issues that we must all deal with. And of course, the difficult situation there highlights so many issues that are part of our national debate. But I’d ask that we remember that Baltimore is more than just a symbol. Baltimore is a city; it is a great city; it is a beautiful city; it is one of our cities. Like so many cities, Baltimore is struggling to balance great expectations and need with limited resources. It is dealing with balancing the challenges of public safety and community expression. And it is home to more than 620,000 people. It was their home that the peaceful protesters were trying to make better. And it was their home that the injured officers were trying to protect.
Let us keep all the people of Baltimore in our thoughts and prayers in the coming days.
And now, I’d like to turn to another of my priorities for this department: the safety and security of our cyber networks. It is a pleasure to be here with all of you today and a privilege to join so many dedicated colleagues, skilled professionals and committed partners in our shared mission as we seek to thwart cyberattacks, defend America’s ingenuity and innovation and protect everyday consumers. I would like to thank each of you for participating in today’s inaugural roundtable conversation and for bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the vital topic we are here to discuss.
Each of you was invited to participate today because you are a leader in cybersecurity. The clients and companies that you advise, inform, or represent stand at the forefront of our global business community and serve as the engine of our American economy. Their activities and actions have a real impact on the lives of countless hard-working American families. And as a result, they are all faced with combating a clear and evolving threat to the financial security of the United States: organized criminal enterprises seeking to steal consumer data.
Theft of consumer information and valuable intellectual property is not just a threat to our economy – it is also a danger to our national security. Just last year, we saw an attack against Sony pictures entertainment that should serve as a wakeup call to all major companies. While the information stolen from Sony may have been fodder for gossip magazines, as you know, these kinds of breaches are no joke. And we need to use every tool in our tool box to stop them.
That’s why these meetings are so important. We have a mutual and compelling interest in developing comprehensive strategies for confronting this threat and it is imperative that our strategies evolve along with those of the hackers searching for new areas of weakness. But we can only meet that challenge if law enforcement and private companies share the effort and work in cooperation with each other. I am committed to working with you in order to strengthen our defenses against cyber breaches, prevent damaging crimes before they occur and bring wrongdoers to justice.
As many of you know, this is an area in which I have firsthand experience. As the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, I oversaw a number of significant cybercrime cases, including the prosecution of several defendants who committed an international bank heist that inflicted $45 million in losses on the financial system in a matter of hours. What I have learned in my experience is that the speed and complexity of cybercrimes make them unique among the threats that the Justice Department confronts – and we must adapt, just as we have in our fights against organized crime and terrorist networks. I firmly believe that cybersecurity must be among the highest priorities for the department of justice – and that is why, as Attorney General, I will seek to build on the already outstanding work of the women and men of the department who have joined us here today.
For many years, the Criminal Division has worked together with the FBI and the U.S. secret service to successfully investigate and prosecute the most serious cyber intrusions. And just last December, the Criminal Division created a new cybersecurity unit within the Computer Crime And Intellectual Property Section to support partnerships both within government and between private entities and law enforcement, to help potential targets of cyberattacks prevent data breaches and to provide assistance and support when incidents do occur. This groundbreaking initiative has already increased collaboration in this area and I believe that it will continue to produce significant results, and inspire renewed progress in the battle against cybercrime.
This kind of cooperation and innovation is the focus of our gathering today. During this inaugural roundtable conversation, you will discuss the obstacles you have faced, and the successes you have achieved. You will share best practices to common challenges and emerging threats. And you will talk about ways that the Department of Justice, and law enforcement more broadly, can help you to protect American consumers from harm while also safeguarding their privacy.
Of course, this conversation will not end at the conclusion of this meeting. Our door at the Department Of Justice is always open to new partnerships and new approaches to combating cybercrime. On a personal level, I am deeply committed to this work and acutely mindful of its importance. I intend to do everything I can to help you keep your clients, your customers and all Americans safe from exploitation and abuse. Through roundtables like this one and through conversations going forward, I aim to ensure that all of you have the resources and the support that you need to promote a secure and healthy marketplace. And with the dedication and the passion of the talented individuals in this room, I am excited about all that we will achieve together in the days ahead.
Thank you again for joining us at today’s roundtable conversation. I wish you a very productive meeting.
Watch the video of Attorney General Lynch's remarks.