Each day tens of millions of Americans use the internet for their job, school, and entertainment, entering personal information on social media, completing financial transactions on banking websites, and entering their credit card numbers to make purchases on sites like Amazon and Ebay. What many people don't realize is that everything they enter is tracked making them vulnerable to hackers. As is clear from recent takedowns, the FBI is taking effective measures to predict and prevent acts of cyberterrorism, including devoting massive resources to stopping acts of cyber crime, surreptitiously tracking hackers and developing new technologies to prevent computers from infiltration.
Cybercrime has become a huge problem in the United States. It is estimated that internet crimes cost the United States $14 billion each year. Although hackers are notoriously difficult to catch, the U.S Government is taking steps to address the growing problem, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation taking the lead in the fight. Cybercrime is the next generation of warfare and is a huge threat that affects our national security. Robert Anderson, Jr., Executive Assistant Director of the FBI explains that hackers seek “our state secrets, our trade secrets, our technology, and our ideas - things of incredible value to all of us” (Anderson). Cybercrimes affect the nation’s infrastructure and harm our economy. Cybercrimes around the world cost up to $445 billion including actual losses to businesses and individuals and many billions more to investigate and repair any damage.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has devoted many divisions and a great deal of financial resources to investigating and stopping hackers and acts of cybercrime. The FBI Cyber Division was founded in 2002.In 2008, under a Presidential Directive, the US Government started the Comprehensive Cybersecurity Initiative, and made the FBI the national coordinator of cyber threat investigations. There are many FBI Organizations focused on cybersecurity. In the past few years, with the increase in acts of cyber crime, the FBI network dealing with internet crime and safety has grown and strengthened. The FBI currently has Cyber Task Forces in all 56 of its offices that focus solely on cybersecurity threats. It also has a Cyber Action Team that can be anywhere in the world in 48 hours. The main thing that the CAT works on is finding who did it and assessing the damage. The National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) is a FBI and Department of Defense partnership that also had 19 other intelligence agencies and works to track down cyber threats domestically. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between FBI and National White Collar Crime center that receives complaints and researches and develops complaints, then passes information on to law enforcement offices everywhere. They cover all types of cyber crimes. There is a 24-hour command center called Cywatch.The National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance (NCFTA) is a non-profit corporation focused on “identifying and ultimately neutralizing cyber crime threats through strategic alliances and partnerships between public, private, and academic sectors” (“Building Alliances,” FBI). The FBI plays a major role. All of these sub-organizations are cooperating and working towards one goal: to predict and prevent attacks. Currently, according to Exec. Assistant Director Anderson, the FBI has prioritized its cyber security efforts, focusing on “high level intrusions -- the biggest and most dangerous botnets, state-sponsored hackers [terrorists], and global cyber syndicates” (Anderson).
The Cyber Division of the FBI is filled with high qualified agents and computer experts and scientists, and they are recruiting to build this force and better fight cybercrime. FBI offers training and its scientists are continually developing new technologies to track and catch hackers. The FBI Training Academy at Quantico has a training school in which agents are educated on cutting-edge technologies. There is also a online new training organization of law enforcement agencies called Cybershield Alliance. It is designed to fight against cyber threats against law enforcement and what are known as “critical technologies” (which are those that are required for national security or the economy). There are 25,000 members and they receive training opportunities, intelligence and information, and tools and products. The FBI is working to develop cutting edge technologies and provide training through the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance (NCFTA). The work of the NCFTA has made huge steps in the fight against cyber terrorism. In 2014, there was an international internship program held where cyber-investigators from Germany, Great Britain, Australia, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and Ukraine met at a program for 90 days to share information, form partnerships and new organizations, and assist one another with investigations in their countries. FBI Cyber-agents use a combination of traditional techniques, such as wiretaps, surveillance and forensics, as well as more innovative, highly guarded technical methods. For example, the FBI has caught hackers by tracing the computer used to message on the IRC. It is this combination that has lead the FBI to much success in finding and stopping major cyber crimes lately.
The Obama administration budget for the federal government include $14 billion for cyber security in 2016. The FBI budget for cyber crime is $470 million. This is to hire and train new employees to help investigations, improve information sharing, increase investigations into terrorism and child pornography, new hardware and software, digital forensic expertise. These expenditures illustrate the extent of the FBI’s measures in this war.
The FBI’s infrastructure and resources have proven to be effective in the battle against cybercrime, as is shown through its successes with Tor, Blackshades and subSeven and various other high-profile takedowns. Tor is a browser is used to stay anonymous online. Working like a P.O. Box it bounces a person’s IP address through at least 5 different computer hosts around the world. It is a VPN (virtual private network) on steroids. It is dangerous because anything, illegal or criminal, cannot be traced to the user who is using Tor. The FBI used hacking techniques (some illegal) to break the Tor network and take down child porn sites in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, the FBI had its biggest takedown of cybercrime ever, known as Blackshades, which shows how effective their work is. BlackShades is a RAT Trojan (Remote Administration Tool) type of malware that gives someone dangerous access to a person’s personal computer and information. Blackshades is a program that allows you to to do many sophisticated things, including control many computers at once, view screens, upload or download files, ransoming files and Facebook hijacking, USB Infection, Instant Messaging Spreading, webcam access, block/redirect URLs, inject itself into other processes, chat with the infected, ad clicking, and password or audio capture.in an extensive investigation, the FBI conducted over 300 worldwide searches, seized over 1800 domains, and made about 100 arrests to shut down this dangerous malware.
One of the priorities identified by the FBI is stopping cyber terrorism by other countries. Recently this year, the US caught and indicted five members of china's liberation army. They were charged with illegally accessing the networks of 6 big American companies and stealing trade secrets. China is the biggest cyber threat and its actions are costing the US billions of dollars. It is very beneficial that the FBI is focusing on computer terrorism, as acts by other countries could really harm national security.
The FBI has also proven successful in fighting against distributed distributed denial of service DDOS cyber crime. Distributed denial of service attack Floods a computer with false and bogus packets of information. The program used by hackers is called HOIC (High Orbit Ion Cannon) known as a packet flooding tool. Recently, the FBI released the IP addresses of 170,000 computers believed to be connected by a zombie botnet. Finally, the FBI is using new methods to track dangerous hackers and members of hacking groups such as Anonymous, Lizard Squad, and Syrian Electronic Army. Some of the ways they are keeping tabs on these hackers is by hacking into the Tor Network, as mentioned above, and using covert accounts on IRC (Internet Relay Chat) websites like AnonOps IRC. This is used to talk directly with high level black hat hackers. These methods are very ground-breaking and secretive, and in some cases, may not be altogether legal, but they are very effective. This shows that the FBI is doing all it can to combat cyber criminals.
Some people feel that the FBI is ineffective and is not doing all they can to address the problem of cybercrime because people are still able to hack into computers. However, it is clear from the FBI’s recurring successes, from statistics on arrests and expenditures, and from all of the organizations dedicated to this problem, that they are, in fact, effective, and are beginning to win the war against cyber terrorism and crime. They have created a massive infrastructure of highly skilled, ethical computer scientists and experts that are making great headway.
All of the recent successes by the FBI in breaking large scale computer crime show that the FBI is trying their hardest, and will continue to try, to everyday internet users safe. They are taking extreme measures to predict and prevent internet crime: creating a skilled network of experts and spending a lot of resources, training and developing new technologies, and continuing to make cybercrime a priority. With new technologies coming to the market daily, the risks of cybercrime also grow enormously. That is why the FBI is dedicating so much time and money to protecting Americans. The FBI is the ultimate “white hat” hacker: dedicated to protecting citizens from the forces of evil.
Anderson, Robert. "Testimony: Statement Before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security
and Governmental Affairs." FBI. FBI, 10 Sept. 2014. Web. 22 May 2015.
This website was very helpful to show what the FBI was doing to help.
"Building Alliances to Improve the Nation’s Cybersecurity." FBI. FBI, 10 Dec. 2012. Web. 22
Helpful because it was from the FBI website.
"Five Chinese Military Hackers Charged with Cyber Espionage Against U.S." FBI. FBI, 19 May
2014. Web. 22 May 2015.
Interesting article very helpful to show FBI recent success.
"Human Trafficking, a Tale of Misery." - HiddenWiki.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
Not much information.
"Inside FBI's Massive Cybercrime Bust." CNNMoney. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 22 May
Lots of information on latest FBI success.
"National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force." FBI. FBI, 21 May 2010. Web. 22 May 2015.
Used to find information on CAT and how the FBI is organized to fight cybercrime.
"NCFTA – Cracking Down on Cybercrime." National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance.
N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
Used for more information on CAT and the current things the FBI is doing for training..
Quinn, Richard P. "Statement Before the House Homeland Security Committee, Subcommittee
on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies." FBI. FBI, 16
Apr. 2014. Web. 22 May 2015.
Helpful with lots of information on FBI work and priorities and organization.
Snow, Gordon. "Statement before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and
Homeland Security: FBI Efforts to Combat Cybercrime on Social Networking." FBI.
FBI, 28 July 2010. Web. 22 May 2015.
Helpful with lots of information on FBI work and priorities and organization
Swarts, Phillip. "Obama Budget Dedicates $14B to Cybersecurity." Washington Times. The
Washington Times, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.
Used to tell use what the budget allows to combat cyber crime.