John Boles, Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, gave a statement earlier this month to the House Committee on the Judiciary, subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. The statement was to discuss the cyber threat and the FBI’s role in it. The statement, Investigating and Prosecuting 21st Century Cyber Threats, was only part of the pro-active role the FBI has taken on as cyber threats increase in prevalence. Last October, the FBI discussed National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the Next Generation Cyber Initative to coordinate the FBI-led investigation and analysis into attacks or exploitations and the motive of those behind it. In February, FBI Director Mueller spoke at RSA 2013 to discuss the FBI, the private sector, and safeguarding cyber security.
In the statement, March 13th, Mr. Boles identified four primary malicious actors and discussed the Next Generation Cyber Initiative, which was started last year.
The four primary malicious actors identified include: foreign intelligence services, terrorist groups, organized crime enterprises, and hacktivists.
“With these diverse threats, we anticipate that cyber security may well become our highest priority in the years to come,” he added.
The Next Generation Cyber Initative allowed the cyber division greater focus on intrusions, additional computer scientists, and the creation of Cyber Task Forces in each of the 56 field offices. Additionally, the FBI expanded its partnerships on the cyber front with other government entities and outside of the government.
While we are currently “engaging in an unprecedented level of intergovernmental collaboration,” Boles said, “today, the private sector is the essential partner if we are to succeed in defeating the cyber threat.”
It was stated that dozens of countries possess offensive cyber capabilities and leverage that for spying and exploiting weaknesses in computer networks to exfiltrate government/military secrets and intellectual property. Terrorist groups would like to digitally sabotage our power grid or water supply. Organized crime groups are divesting their interests from robbing banks with guns to instead stealing credentials, account numbers, and personal information to profit from. Hacktivist groups, with Anonymous and LulzSec specifically identified, are “pioneering their own forms of digital anarchy”.
The testimony goes on to discuss the Cyber Division’s founding in 2002 and some key cases where the FBI proved instrumental. The next section covers the Next Generation Cyber Initiative and details improved working with the private sector. They have been able to improve their partnerships with industry and share further classified threat briefings to key partners to improve information exchange while taking into consideration “privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties.”
The update is quite interesting from a cyber security perspective. I encourage you to read the testimony.
Image courtesy of FBI.gov