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The Cybersecurity Program

"Technological dynamism has profoundly transformed our society in recent years. Ninety-five percent of Americans own a cell phone and more than three-quarters of us own a smartphone. Nearly seven in ten Americans use social media. In 2014, the Internet sector was responsible for an estimated $922 billion, or six percent of the U.S. real GDP — and that figure is rising.

Our lives are increasingly dependent on a growing digital infrastructure. But much of that infrastructure is being targeted by criminals and foreign adversaries. Since 2012, the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment has frequently listed the cyber threat as a major danger to our nation’s security.

At the Department of Justice, we take such threats extremely seriously and view countering them as one of our highest priorities. We aggressively investigate, indict, and — when possible —prosecute the cybercriminals and foreign state hackers behind such attacks. We create novel partnerships within the federal government to use an “all tools” approach. If prosecution is not the most appropriate course of action, we work with partners in other agencies to pursue the most effective alternatives."

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – United States Naval Academy – October 10, 2017

The Current Threat

Cybercrime poses a significant threat to the privacy and economic security of American consumers and businesses.

Every day hackers attempt to steal financial information, orchestrate massive disruptions of businesses, or electronically spirit away trade secrets. The threat can emanate from computers half way around the world, computers next door, a disgruntled IT manager, or a soon-to-be ex-employee who steals, deletes, or otherwise compromises company information.

Recently, we've seen a series of extraordinarily invasive and damaging data breaches that victimized some of our nation’s largest businesses, as well as federal, state, and local governments, with tens of millions of personal and consumer records stolen or compromised at a time. All types of businesses have been victimized, from banks to retailers, to mom-and-pop financial firms, to entertainment companies, to restaurant chains, to health care providers. Hacking can cost businesses millions of dollars each year. Any estimate of the losses fails to capture the very real—but unquantifiable—personal harm suffered by victims of online crime, such as identity theft and sextortion.

Therefore, fighting cybercrime is one of the highest priorities of our Office.

The Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section

The Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section is the focus of our District’s anti-cybercrime efforts, and the Section has been involved in every significant cybercrime case in our District since its inception.

The Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section investigates and prosecutes high-tech crimes, including both cyber-based attacks on the nation’s electronic infrastructure and economic crimes committed using computers, as well as intellectual property crimes, such as theft of intellectual property and economic espionage. The Central District is home to sensitive government computer installations, a significant high-tech industry, and the motion picture and recording industries, among many others. Protecting the security of these industries is a priority of the United States Attorney’s Office, with particular emphasis on investigating and prosecuting sophisticated attacks on computer systems and intellectual property offenses. The Section also prioritizes cyber threats to individuals including cyber stalking, online threats, “sextortion,” and similar crimes.

As a part of the National Security Division, Cyber AUSAs work in conjunction with attorneys from the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section on all matters dealing with National Security, including hacking and economic espionage done at the behest of foreign powers. The prosecutors in all of our cases, of course, rely on the incredible dedication and expertise of cyber investigators at the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Secret Service, and other law enforcement partners.  In addition, the Section also provides guidance to prosecutors throughout the Office on technological trends.

Because of the global nature of cyber threats, investigating and prosecuting cybercrime poses unique jurisdictional and technical challenges: cybercriminals operating in one foreign jurisdiction might use infrastructure in a second to victimize businesses or individuals located in other countries—all the while employing sophisticated technical methods to both magnify their capability for crime and shield them from law enforcement. Cybercrime is global and, thus, we attack it globally, working closely with foreign governments to address this global problem.

Cybersecurity Outreach

The Office’s cybersecurity efforts are not just focused on prosecuting cybercrime, but on prevention through the promotion of cybersecurity. We use our experience to be better prepared for—and to prevent—the next attack or intrusion.

The Section works with the public and private sectors in developing a greater appreciation for cybersecurity and ensuring a robust response to any cyber threat. We view governments and corporations who are victims of a cyberattack as just that—victims. Training and public outreach are critical components to the USAO’s Cybersecurity Program. As a result, Assistant United States Attorneys are available to speak to the public and private sector about cybersecurity. If you are interested in having an AUSA speak at an event, please contact the Chief of the Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section.

The incessant barrage of these cyberattacks demonstrates the scope and the scale of the challenge we face, as well as the urgency of forging effective solutions. Our Office is committed to bringing perpetrators to justice wherever they may be, disrupting cyber threats, and cementing enduring partnerships across the public and private sectors to ensure that our data, and our economy, are secure and protected from harm.


Cybersecurity Resources

Reporting Cyber Crime:

Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting of Cyber Incidents

Current Threats and Tips:

Updated November 6, 2019

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