FBI: No Internet-connected system is impervious to cybercrime

Tools

With the right resources, cybercriminals can "penetrate any system that is accessible directly from the Internet," said Gordon Snow, assistant director of the FBI's cyber division. As such, government networks and the nation's critical infrastructure could be degraded, disrupted or destroyed, he told the Senate Judiciary crime and terrorism subcommittee April 12.

"Although likely only advanced threat actors are currently capable of employing these techniques, as we have seen with other malicious software tools, these capabilities will eventually be within reach of all threat actors," Snow said.

The FBI continues to struggle with attribution--identifying the source of cybercrime once it's detected. It's difficult to know whether criminal enterprises or nation states are sponsoring attacks and the motives behind them, added Snow, but there have been gains in understanding origination and motivation.

"The successes that we've had have been many," he said. "The problem with it is that there are still some very high-profile cases that we've seen, just by looking through The Wall Street Journal or any other media outlet, where we still don't know to this day who the attacker is, what state we can attribute it to, or who that person behind the keyboard was."

Snow said much of the criminal activity aimed at the United States is coming from Russia and Eastern Europe. The FBI and Homeland Security Department have deployed cyber investigators internationally, sometimes even embedding in foreign police units to assist with cybercrime investigations.

The Secret Service has 22 overseas offices, and Electronic Cybercrime Task Forces located in Rome and London, said Pablo Martinez, deputy special agent for its cyber crime criminal investigation division. "In the countries where we don't have an office we take a regional approach, where we have an agent specifically assigned to those countries," he said.

"The Secret Service has enhanced our cyber intelligence section to identify transnational cybercriminals," said Martinez. "In the past two years CIS has directly contributed to the arrest of 41 transnational cyber criminals who were responsible for the largest network intrusion cases ever prosecuted in the United States."

For more:
- watch the Senate hearing

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