FBIs Cyber-Crime Chief Relates Struggle for Top Talent

By Ryan Naraine  |  Posted 2004-11-30 Print this article Print

"We can't keep the best available minds in the IT world ... because, ultimately, we can't pay what the industry pays for talent," the head of the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center says in his keynote as part of Ziff Davis Media's Security

The FBIs inability to recruit and keep the best available IT talent has proven to be one of the biggest challenges facing the governments Internet Crime Complaint Center (I3C), a senior official said Tuesday.

Delivering the keynote address on the opening day of Ziff Davis Medias Security Virtual Tradeshow, I3C chief Daniel Larkin said the centers staffing problems underline the need for deeper cooperation between the FBI and the IT industry to win the battle against sophisticated cyber-criminals.

"We cant recruit and keep the best available minds in the IT world. They come, stay a few years and move on because, ultimately, we cant pay what the industry pays for talent," Larkin said, adding that the bureau also has experienced difficulties with keeping pace with employees training needs.

Because of those shortcomings, Larkin said, the I3C spent the past four years forging partnerships with the biggest names in the tech industry to share expertise, coordinate on intelligence and develop best practices and protocols for fighting cyber-crime.

He said the unit has come a long way since its creation in 2000 as the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC). Originally formed as partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to fight online fraud, Larkin said the unit had to evolve to keep up with the rapidly changing face of crime on the Internet.

The I3C now tackles a range of criminal schemes on the Internet, including spam, phishing, spoofed or hijacked bank accounts, international reshipping schemes with origins in West Africa, cyber-extortion, computer intrusions and economic espionage. Larkin discussed several major highlights over the years, including "Operation Web Snare" in August, which led to the arrests or convictions of more than 150 individuals and the return of 117 criminal complaints and indictments.

Operation Web Snare was a collaborative effort that included work by 36 U.S. Attorneys offices nationwide, the criminal division of the Department of Justice, 37 of the FBIs 56 field divisions, 13 of the Postal Inspection Services 18 field divisions, and the Federal Trade Commission, together with a variety of other federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement agencies.

Larkin outlined the need to develop new training capabilities to keep up with online scammers who use multiple techniques to hoodwink Internet users into giving up sensitive personal data.

"We can use individuals from academia and the tech industry to cross-pollinate resources and feed that to our cyber forensics labs to help build strong cases," he said.

"The cycling of new resources into a project brings fresh minds and fresh tactics. Thats much more desirable than someone who had been engaged for a few years," he added.

"Originally, we were trying to create the mother of all databases to deal with online fraud. But with our staffing problems, we decided it was better to let the industry leaders do that," Larkin said, adding that the I3C now uses a simple, uniformed format for data collection that allows a high level of collaboration.

"We act as a bridge between the industry groups and the task forces working the cases. Well partner with all sides to ensure that information is flowing smoothly," he said.

Editors Note: The Ziff Davis Media Security Virtual Tradeshow is run by eSeminars, a division of Ziff Davis Media, parent company of eWEEK.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at eWEEK.com Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

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