• United States



RSA Conference 2012: Cyber threats a game changer for the FBI

Feb 28, 20123 mins
CybercrimeData and Information SecurityNetwork Security

The rising tide of cyber threats has caused the FBI to change how it operates, FBI Director Robert Mueller will tell RSA Conference attendees Thursday.

SAN FRANCISCO — You know by now that cyber attacks are a growing threat to US government data facilities, critical infrastructure and American businesses. Thursday at RSA Conference 2012, FBI Director Robert Mueller will explain how the threat has been a game changer for his agency.

While Mueller‘s presentation isn’t public at this point, an FBI spokesperson told CSO that his remarks would track closely with similar remarks made recently by FBI Executive Assistant Director Shawn Henry.

Henry has said in a number of presentations and interviews that you can’t just use technology to defeat cyber threats, you have to know who is attacking you and what they’re after. Henry has also suggested that the US create a new, separate, highly secure Internet for critical infrastructure, financial institutions and the government.

Notably, the FBI has itself been the target of a number of attacks recently, including an attack by the group Anonymous shortly after the FBI and New Zealand authorities arrested Megauploads founder Kim Dotcom.

Previously, in his testimony before Congress regarding the FBI’s 2012 budget, Mueller noted that the FBI would need greater resources to continue its fight against cyber terrorism and other cyber attacks. “Technological advancements and the Internet’s expansion will continue to empower malicious cyber actors to harm U.S. national security through criminal and intelligence activities,” Mueller said in his testimony. “We must maintain our ability to keep pace with this rapidly developing technology.”

The FBI’s stance on cyber-attacks hasn’t changed except to raise the level of urgency. Henry, in an interview with the Associated Press and reported in Air Force Times, said that networks should be developed where anonymity is not an option.

Mueller’s view on the critical cyber security issues are nearly certain to reflect the views of the Obama Administration, which were expressed in recent Senate Cybersecurity hearings. Measures the administration espoused include a public-private partnership to help share information on cyber attacks. Previous statements by Mueller and others in the FBI have focused on the necessity for information sharing as an effective means of fighting cyber terrorism and other types of cyber-attacks.

Previous FBI statements regarding cyber attacks have stressed the fact that terrorist groups and nationally-sponsored hacker groups can tap into cybercrime organizations and use their resources, such as their botnets, to mount attacks on the US government and critical infrastructure. It was one such attack that succeeded briefly against the FBI and the US Department of Justice following the Megauploads arrests.