The Federal Bureau of Investigation realizes that cybercrime has touched all corners of the world, with hackers working from Eastern Europe, Asia, the United States and elsewhere. In response, the organization has begun working with international law enforcement in order to take its fight against cyber threats to a global level, according to a recent Government Computer News report.
Shawn Henry, the FBI's executive assistant director for the Cyber Response and Services Branch, detailed the agency's approach to Internet security while speaking at the recent Cybersecurity Conference and Exposition in Washington, D.C., GCN reported. He also gave several examples of this practice in action.
One was the recently completed Operation Trident Breach, in which the FBI worked closely with international authorities to conduct investigations in both the U.K. and Ukraine. The work resulted in the arrest of a gang of hackers who had been attacking financial transactions. In all, 90 arrests were made.
American officials also recently worked alongside Ethiopian authorities to take down the Ghost Click scam, a fraudulent advertising network that cybercriminals used to elicit fees from unsuspecting web users.
Overall, the FBI has spearheaded the U.S. government's efforts to temper cybercrime both within the nation's borders and abroad.
That was recently the case when a group of hackers infiltrated the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems within several U.S. cities. Initially, there was much confusion surrounding the incidents, but Michael Welch, another deputy assistant director of the FBI's cyber division confirmed they were the result of cyberattacks, according to the BBC.
"We just had a circumstance where we had three cities, one of them a major city within the U.S., where you had several hackers that had made their way into SCADA systems within the city," Welch said at the Flemings Cyber Security conference, the BBC reported.
"Essentially it was an ego trip for the hacker because he had control of that city's system and he could dump raw sewage into the lake, he could shut down the power plant at the mall – a wide array of things," he continued.
According to the BBC, Welch also said the FBI's cyber division has received a 12 percent bump in its budget, which will allow it to monitor threats around the clock.
That could also be behind the agency's renewed focus on the international level. However, according to GCN, Henry said that's not where the FBI's collaboration should end. He argued that both public and private sector organizations should be working together on data security.
"They want our money, property, information and some even want to physically harm us," he said of the shared threats, according to GCN.
The key to an effective working relationship between the sectors will be a willingness to work together, Henry said. Specifically, private companies have to want to involve agencies like the FBI when they suffer a major data breach. To this point, however, many organizations have chosen to delay responses to such incidents out of concern for their reputations and revenue.
But Henry certainly isn't alone in promoting the need for greater public-private cooperation when it comes to cybersecurity. Currently, proposed legislation is making its way through Congress that would create a semi-autonomous entity called the National Information Sharing Organization through which companies and government bodies could share data on security threats.
However, some lawmakers have raised questions of privacy and have called on further tweaks to be made to the bill before it can be voted on.
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