FBI/DOJ warns of economic cybergeddon

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A couple of speeches this week by FBI and Department of Justice executives are warning that if law enforcement and others connected with keeping the Internet a secure and safe place to do business and socialize the world could be headed toward a cyber-based economic meltdown -- cybergeddon.   

Computer attacks pose the biggest risk "from a national security perspective, other than a weapon of mass destruction or a bomb in one of our major cities," said Shawn Henry, assistant director of the FBI's cyber division told the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York . According to multiple reports Henry went on to say  terrorist groups aim for an online 9/11, "inflicting the same kind of damage on our country, on all our countries, on all our networks, as they did in 2001 by flying planes into buildings."

"The cyber infrastructure of the U.S. government is closely linked to the national cyber infrastructure that we all know and use.  And that infrastructure is largely made up of privately owned networks.  Moreover, our economic security is quickly becoming linked to our ability to protect information in cyberspace.  Even if the government wanted to devise cyber security policies without private input, these policies would have limited reach, and would not reach many of the most critical potential vulnerabilities in the United States, said Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip at the International Conference on Cyber Security."For instance, electrical grids depend on cyber components to function, and the banking system and Wall Street rely on computers and Internet-based transactions.  The crown jewels of our technology and intellectual property rights - held in corporations and research universities - are similarly affected by such vulnerabilities.  These and many more like examples make clear that we cannot have a rational national cyber security policy without thinking long and hard about how to protect private networks."

"I can't tell you how strongly I believe, how much I've been convinced by my colleagues in the FBI, and the rest of the Executive Branch, that we must secure our cyber infrastructure in a manner that addresses threats from foreign armies, adversary intelligence services, criminals, and terrorists," Filip said.  "It's hard to exaggerate how important this is or how hard it is to accomplish fully." 

Filip went on to say that the US, partners abroad and private industry have made substantial progress at battling cyber crime despite the challenges that cyber operations and investigations present.  For example:

  • The Department of Justice chairs the G-8 High Tech Crime Group, which now includes over 50 countries.  The group is designed to facilitate parallel criminal investigations with law enforcement agencies abroad and allow for quick cooperation on emerging and exigent cyber crime matters.
  • The United States ratified the International Convention on Cybercrime.  The Convention provides a basic framework for substantive and procedural laws to allow greater cooperation among nations in the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime, and sets minimum levels for substantive cyber laws, procedural laws, and standards of cooperation with other nations.
  • The Department of Justice, in cooperation with other government agencies, helps train foreign police, prosecutors, and judges on investigating and prosecuting cybercrime and the importance of obtaining and preserving electronic evidence.
  • The FBI has created InfraGard, a partnership between the government and private industry that encourages information sharing to better protect America's physical and electronic infrastructure, including banks, water and food supplies, and transportation and communications networks.  InfraGard, includes federal, state, and local law enforcement; military officials; business executives; entrepreneurs; and academics.  FBI agents are able to provide threat alerts and warnings, investigative updates, and other information, and private sector partners share expertise and information that helps law enforcement track down criminals and terrorists.

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