The director of the FBI Robert Mueller used his keynote address to the RSA 2010 conference to appeal for greater cooperation between law enforcement and the private sector to fight online crime.
He told delegates that the need for cooperation had never been stronger, with online fraud increasing to massive levels and the next generation of terrorists getting online in unprecedented numbers.
Osama Bin Laden long ago identified cyberspace as a means to damage out economy and psyche and countless extremists have taken this to heart, he said.
Terrorists have shown a clear interest in pursuing hacking skills. And they will either train their own recruits or hire outsiders, with an eye towards combining physical attacks with cyber attacks.
As the attacks on Georgia and Estonia showed these tactics are already in play he said and it would take cooperation between businesses and law enforcement to crack down on the online criminals, be they terrorists or thieves.
The FBI has over 1,000 trained computer specialist in its 56 field offices in the US he said, and while they were skilled in analysis and digital forensics the agency also needed the cooperation of business in beating online crime.
To this end he promised that the FBI would do everything it could to minimise the effect of a criminal investigation so that companies could feel confident that in the event of an attack then any investigation would help rather than hinder.
We do not want you to feel victimised a second time by an investigation, he said.
We know that putting on raid jackets, courting the media and shutting down your systems is not the best way to get the job done.
The FBI would preserve confidentiality he said, even to the extent of getting protective orders to preserve trade secrets and business confidentiality. But the agency could not act if they were not informed of cyber crime and industry must stand together with law enforcement.
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