The FBI cannot fight cyber-crime on its own. The private sector has to work hand-in-hand with law enforcement, said FBI Director Robert Mueller at the 2012 RSA Conference.
SAN FRANCISCO The United
States is taking the lessons it has learned from combating global terrorism and
is starting to
apply those to fighting cyber-crime, as well as a cyber-spying
, said FBI
Director Robert Mueller, who spoke at the 2012
. The key to all of this, Mueller added, is cooperation.
The private and public sectors
need to work together to share information on the latest threats and defensive
strategies, said Mueller during his March 1 keynote speech. Unless there is
cooperation between government and business, cyber-criminals will continue stealing
money and cyber-spies will continue walking away with "ideas and
innovation," he said.
Terrorists have not yet used
the Internet to launch a cyber-attack against the United States, but the FBI is
not ruling out the possibility that they will someday.
"In the not too distant
future, we anticipate that the cyber-threat will pose the No. 1 threat to our
country," said Mueller.
Society has become increasingly
reliant upon the electronic networks and devices that offer easy communication
and access to data, and run everything from power lines to modes of transportation.
If the systems society depends on are removed, the result would be chaos and
anarchy, Mueller said.
"We can't turn back the
clock," said Mueller. However, he quickly added that no one wants to stop
innovation and progress when it comes to creating new technologies.
Instead, information about
threats and ways to combat them needs to be shared. The FBI is planning some
changes to how agents operate and will also work for changes within the
government. All FBI special agents are receiving cyber-training, and
specialists in the area will receive the best possible training, Mueller
promised. Investigators will be able to compare notes and follow up on cases
with each other in virtual meeting rooms, said Mueller.
The changes in how the agents
are being trained are similar to how the FBI revamped itself after the Sept. 11,
2001, attacks to develop anti-terrorism skills. Each of the 56 field offices
around the country now has a dedicated cyber-security squad, and there are
1,000 agents and analysts focused on cyber-threats.
The FBI sees three major groups
as threats: organized crime, terrorists and state-sponsored cyber-espionage.
Information sharing is not just
about the federal government sharing the latest threat information with
organizations. Mueller would also like a standard national breach law that
would require organizations to report all serious cyber-incidents to law
enforcement. Businesses often investigate and mitigate breaches internally to
avoid exposure or brand damage. Being compromised is increasingly becoming
inevitable, and many businesses are being repeatedly attacked.
"Maintaining a code of
silence will not serve us in the long run," said Mueller.
While the bulk of Mueller's
speech painted a grim picture of the state of security in the country, he did
highlight some of the successes the agency had in the past year. The
FBI shut down the Coreflood botnet
and made arrangements to clean up
infected systems. The agency also arrested the group that masterminded the
DNSChanger malware, which redirected users to malicious Websites by mucking
with the computer's Domain Name System settings.
FBI estimated DNSChanger had infected more than 4 million Microsoft Windows PCs
and Apple Macs worldwide
. About 1 million of those machines were based in
the United States. After the arrests in November, a court order allowed the
Internet Systems Consortium to set up servers that replaced the malicious
remote control servers and continued communicating with the infected machines.
The idea was to give the computer owners time to remove the malware without
losing access to the Internet. The servers are slated to be shut down March 8,
which may potentially cut off the 400,000 still infected machines from the net.
have filed a request with a New York federal court asking for an extension and
keeping the servers operational until July 9. Mueller did not make any mention
of what would happen with DNSChanger in his speech.