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New round of cyber attacks heightens focus on FBI

by
June 22, 2011
FedCyber Wire
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via Reuters Canada

Each week brings word of another cyber attack on a major U.S. institution, sending law enforcement scrambling and raising new questions about whether it has the ability or resources to track down cyber criminals.

The FBI says it is working to bulk up its cyber division as hackers focus on higher-profile targets, but is at the mercy of a Congress struggling to cut the massive budget deficit.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, who has made it his mission to boost computer savviness during his decade-long tenure, acknowledged there was more work to do when he testified to Congress recently about extending his term by two years.

“I will tell you that we will increasingly put emphasis on addressing cyber-threats in all of their variations,” Mueller said earlier this month. “Part of that is making certain that the personnel in the bureau have the equipment, the capability, the skill, the experience to address those threats.”

Some experts question whether the FBI has the tools or manpower to apprehend those responsible for attempts like one earlier this year that sought to infiltrate the International Monetary Fund’s computers, which hold sensitive economic data.

A Justice Department inspector general report in April said some FBI field agents raised concerns they were not qualified for cyber cases and were rotated between offices too often, hobbling their efforts.

The FBI is now reviewing its policy on agent transfers and reviewing training they receive for such investigations.

“The tools that the FBI has in its toolbox are really pretty limited,” said Stewart Baker, a former top official at the Homeland Security Department and now a partner at the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson.

Continued here.