FBI: Several nations eyeing US cyber targets

The chief of the FBI's Cyber Division says cyber threats have grown in sophistication in the past year, and are targeting the US.

About two dozen nations have developed cyber-attack capabilities and have their eyes on targets inside the US government or businesses, the top cybercrime law enforcement official in the US said.

"There are countries who have an interest in obtaining information from the US, in terms of the electronic theft of data," said Shawn Henry, the assistant director in charge of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cyber Division.

Henry declined to name countries, but he called organized attacks on US cyber targets a "significant threat" during a press conference Wednesday. Over the past year, cyber attacks against US targets have become increasingly sophisticated, said Henry, appointed to the top post in the Cyber Division in September.

The FBI has thousands of open investigations into cybercrime and organized cyber attacks, said Henry, who's investigated cybercrime for the FBI on and off for the past nine years. The FBI has also tracked terrorist groups that use cybercrime such as identity theft to fund their operations, he added.

Henry encouraged government agencies and US businesses to worry less about where the cyber threat was coming from and more about how to protect their data and networks.

"They've got to be concerned about the information on their networks and ingress into their networks," he said. "The threat actor shouldn't be all that important to them because once the information is gone, it's gone. If it's a kid from Iowa who steals the information, it can still be turned over to a terrorist organization."

Henry stayed away from giving specific numbers during his briefing, but he said he's seeing an increase in the use of botnets -- networks of compromised computers -- to commit cybercrime. Botnets are being used to send phishing spam e-mail, spread malicious code and attack computer networks, he said.

The FBI is also seeing significant organized crime over the Internet, including traditional organized crime groups moving their operations to the Web and groups of criminal hackers meeting each other and planning crime over the Web. "There are organized groups that are very successful," he said.

Asked if terrorist groups had targeted the US electrical grid or air-traffic control system, Henry declined to single out those sectors. "There are parties that are interested in doing whatever damage they can with the greatest impact on the US," he said.

Henry also talked about governmentwide efforts to fight cybercrime. In January, US President George Bush launched an effort called the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. Many of the details are classified, but the FBI is working closely with the US Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to improve cybersecurity inside and outside the US government, Henry said.

Some of the major efforts include educating government agencies and businesses about cyber threats, and recruiting top US workers to the cybersecurity field, Henry said. The US has "lost some of our advantage" in the area of cybersecurity as many students have opted for other careers, Henry said.

The FBI is also working out ways to coordinate sources of information about cyber threats and cyber criminals and share that information across the government and with the private sector, Henry said.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?