U.S. Attorney and Law Enforcement Partners Announce Formation of Connecticut Cyber Task Force
United States Attorney Deirdre M. Daly and representatives of federal, state and local law enforcement today announced the formation of the Connecticut Cyber Task Force to investigate complex crimes in cyberspace.
The Connecticut Cyber Task Force, which is based at the FBI in New Haven, includes representatives from the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Homeland Security Investigations, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Connecticut State Police and 11 police departments from across the state, including the Bridgeport, Bristol, Fairfield, Greenwich, Hartford, New Canaan, New London, Norwalk, Stamford, Torrington and Westport Police Departments.
“The broad reach of cyber criminals can be felt almost every day in Connecticut,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “Day after day, we learn of companies, municipalities, educational institutions, hospitals, public utilities, nonprofits and citizens being targeted by bad actors. These cyber criminals seek to disrupt our work, steal our intellectual property, compromise the personal or financial information of employees, customers and citizens through dedicated denial of service (DDOS) attacks, spear phishing campaigns, ransomware and malware attacks and other computer hacks or cyber intrusions.”
“The Connecticut Cyber Task Force will address the significant increase in the number and frequency of cyber-attacks occurring in Connecticut,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia M. Ferrick. “The primary goal of the task force is to combine available federal, state and local law enforcement resources in Connecticut to address challenging and emerging cyber threats such as the use of the Dark Markets, crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, and encrypted routing services, including TOR, to hide the advertising, sale and distribution of controlled substances and the sale of stolen personal identification, user credentials and financial information. We will also work closely with our law enforcement partners to provide training, resources and investigative strategies to address the significant ransomware and business email compromise attacks in Connecticut. It is our hope that this task force will make a significant impact and serve to better protect the citizens of Connecticut from the ever-changing criminal threats emanating from the internet.”
“Cybercrime is an increasing threat to individuals, businesses, and government in Connecticut and across the country,” said Commissioner Dr. Dora Schriro of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. “Neither impeded by geographic boundaries nor governmental jurisdictions, no single law enforcement agency can adequately address cybercrime. The Connecticut State Police welcomes the opportunity to expand our efforts and outreach in this important area through collaborative efforts such as this. Working closely with federal and local partners is key to keeping our communities safe and to holding accountable those who are responsible.”
Initially, the Task Force will prioritize cybercrime investigations in two areas. First, the Task Force will work to identify and disrupt criminal organizations that use computer intrusions to defraud companies of their money and information. “According to some estimates, in the last four years alone, ‘business compromise’ schemes have cost American companies more than $1.6 billion,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “The FBI, Secret Service, HSI and IRS have made great strides in minimizing the impacts of these frauds through both prosecution of fraudsters and numerous outreach efforts to the business communities, but by working together and with state and local law enforcement, we believe that we will detect trends across intrusions, thereby allowing us to identify, arrest and prosecute the most serious offenders.”
“On behalf of HSI, I am extremely pleased to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut on this new cyber task force,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew Etre of HSI Boston. “HSI’s unique authorities, broad scope of investigative areas, and cyber-specific assets bring to the table an extensive toolkit that can track down cyber criminals and bring them to justice, no matter where they hide. Our methods have been tried and tested over many years, helping to make HSI a world leader in cyber investigations.”
“Our growing reliance on computer networks and electronic devices in almost every aspect of our lives has been accompanied by an increased threat from individuals, organized criminal networks, and nation states that victimize American citizens and businesses,” said Joel P. Garland, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. “Recent revelations about massive thefts of financial and other sensitive data, from both the public and private sector, serve as a stark reminder of how vulnerable we all are to cyber-attacks. IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to investigating and prosecuting those perpetrating criminal schemes in the cyber world. Through our partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office and our federal, state and local partners, we will aggressively pursue those who threaten our citizens and our nation.”
Second, the Task Force will target criminal activity on the dark web, notably the illicit acquisition and distribution of fentanyl and other dangerous drugs that are the cause of tens of thousands of overdose deaths annually. “Many dark web forums are an online version of an open-air drug market where narcotics are openly marketed and sold with impunity,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “We believe that the vast majority of fentanyl that is killing far too many Americans is being produced overseas, and then sold on the dark web. Our Office, in partnership with the DEA and Postal Inspectors, has arrested and prosecuted online distributors of fentanyl and other drugs. The goal of the Task Force is to now marshal our resources and focus attention on those who operate and profit from the online forums themselves.”
“The DEA continues to be proactive in attacking criminal organizations that use the internet to conduct their illicit trade,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “Many times these organizations are utilizing the Dark Web to procure fentanyl directly from China. Connecticut has been experiencing a deadly opioid epidemic and the majority of these deaths can be attributed to a combination of fentanyl and heroin. The creation of this Task Force will give us additional resources to target and attack those individuals who are responsible for bringing this deadly poison into the United States and onto the streets of Connecticut.”
“The need to combat cybercrimes is increasing as more individuals become victims to these types of crimes,” said Inspector in Charge Shelly Binkowski of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.” The U.S. Postal Inspection Service looks forward to working collaboratively with our law enforcement partners to keep the American public safe.”
“Cybercrimes that could compromise the integrity of the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Information Network or result in the disclosure of sensitive or classified DoD data are a top priority for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS),” said Special Agent-in-Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey, DCIS Northeast Field Office. “DCIS welcomes the opportunity to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI New Haven Division and its law enforcement partners in this important initiative to combat cyber-related crimes.”
U.S. Attorney Daly noted several significant cybercrime matters that were investigated and prosecuted in Connecticut in the last decade, including the dismantling of the Coreflood botnet in 2011, a groundbreaking case that utilized legal and technical tools that are now used regularly throughout the country; the prosecution and extradition of several Romanian citizens who stole financial and personal information in phishing schemes; a fentanyl distribution investigation that revealed the drug was being acquired in kilogram quantities over the dark web; the arrest this past August of a Nigerian citizen who is alleged to have operated a phishing scheme to acquire tax information from school system employees, which information was used to file numerous false tax returns, and the arrest in Spain of a Russian citizen who is alleged to have operated the Kelihos botnet for more than 10 years.
U.S. Attorney Daly announced that Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vanessa Richards, David Huang and Neeraj Patel are coordinating the efforts of the Task Force within the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “Over the last two years, the Office has made a singular commitment to fighting cyber crime by creating a cyber bench – a group of prosecutors specially trained in this complex area,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “These dedicated prosecutors have presented to Connecticut’s largest companies to educate businesses on how to avoid becoming the victim of a cyber-attack, and what to do when attacked.”
To contact the Connecticut Cyber Task Force, please call the FBI in New Haven at 203-777-6311.