But the lack of resources and training for tackling cyber-crime isnt a state and local problem exclusively; it extends to the FBI and the Secret Service as well.
The Secret Service has had a task force in New York for several years devoted strictly to investigating cyber-crime, and after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration decided to extend that model to the rest of the country. A section of the USA PATRIOT Act directs the Secret Service to form similar regional task forces around the country. There are now 13 such teams in major metro areas.
But several people involved in the creation of the task forces said they are still severely short of agents and funding. Although the act requires the Secret Service to create the task forces, the legislation has not provided additional money for the teams.
For example, Smiths local unit in Las Vegas comprises five full-time officers plus a supervisor, along with about 15 other officers with technical backgrounds who can be called in to help on large investigations. By contrast, the federal Las Vegas Electronic Crimes Task Force has just two agents dedicated full time to cyber-crime.
"They just didnt provide the required resources because there were a lot of conflicting priorities," said John Frazzini, a former Secret Service agent who ran the Washington-Metro Electronic Crimes Task Force and now heads a security systems integration company in Virginia. "After 9/11, everything was about terrorism, with little focus on cyber-crime.
"At no other time in history has there been the opportunity for criminals to engage in such mass victimization," Frazzini said. "The resources provided in support of various federal law enforcement cyber-crime initiatives are simply not commensurate with the massive scope of the criminal activity."
"The feds reward people who are generalists, people who can go from protecting the vice presidents wife to investigating counterfeit currency to doing cyber-crime investigations," said Solutionarys Rasch. "But cyber-crime requires people who are specialists. And not just specialists in cyber-crime but specialists in one specific operating system. They have people who are analysts and know this stuff, but they dont know how to write an affidavit in support of a search warrant or get a case ready for prosecution."