Institute Helps Investigators Keep Up with Cyber-Crime
"It's a security software company reaching out not in a way to sell software but as a philanthropic outreach to provide law enforcement the training and collaboration they need," Palmer said. "What I've done is reach out through every chain from the law enforcement officer from the state and local level through attorneys general, the FBI and non-profit groups already supporting them to help make them more successful." Much of the work of the Norton Cybersecurity Institute is to train prosecutors, attorneys general and judges on how to handle cyber-crime cases once an arrest is made. He said that in addition, they educate law enforcement officials on trends in cyber-crime and cyber-threats, and teach them how to stay up to date on the threats on a day-to-day basis.The Cybersecurity Institute will be rolling out a number of programs this year to help law enforcement and consumers fight cyber-crime. They include a forum for attorneys general and prosecutors, sponsorship with the National Cyber Forensics & Training Alliance, and a series of training conference sponsorships as well as a victim assistance program. What's notable is that Symantec's Norton division, normally considered the consumer arm of the security company, is the group that's handling the Cybersecurity Institute. Palmer said that the Cybersecurity Institute isn't charging for its services, and is in fact funding many of the groups it's working with and is in many cases paying for expenses of law enforcement officers participating in the programs. "I don't think anybody else is really doing this to the extent we are," Palmer said. While I suspect that at least part of Symantec's motive in creating the Cybersecurity Institute is to ensure that the company's mindshare remains strong in the face of increasing competition from Microsoft and others, there's no question that the work that the Institute is doing needs to be done. As Palmer pointed out during the interview, cyber-crime moves at the speed of light, but the prosecutors must move at the speed of law. While the law can move only so fast, it's much more effective if every person and every institution involved with keeping cyber-crime under control knows what they're doing, how the process works and how best to understand the nuances of cyber-crime. The understanding has to go beyond just the cyber-crime units at the FBI or local and state police departments. Prosecutors have to understand what they're prosecuting, and judges have to understand the cases they're hearing. If the Norton Cybersecurity Institute can accomplish that mission, they'll have made fighting cyber-crime, whether it's identity theft or terrorism, a lot more effective.
One tool that Symantec is making available for free, according to Palmer, is the Norton Cybersecurity Index, a Windows gadget and a mobile site providing constantly updated information on the most significant threats of the day, as well as the general level of cyber-crime.