Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Feds go global to fight cybercriminals overseas

The tip came from another country's law enforcement officials: Eight major banks in the U.S. were being targeted by cybercriminals operating there.

FBI agents fanned out that night to warn the branches that hackers were aiming to break into their computer systems. The banks were able to spot the attempted breaches, and block them, FBI officials said.

Concerned about the rise in this type of sophisticated computer attack from abroad, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service are beefing up their international cybercrime enforcement, sending agents who specialize in the threats overseas to specifically deal with digital perils.

Their growing coordination with other nations, however, faces legal and political challenges posed by conflicting laws and the lack of broadly accepted international guidelines for Internet oversight.

"With the increased connectivity in countries that heretofore didn't have that amount of access, and the technological advances made in corporate America that have put vulnerable financial information online, it's been the perfect storm," said Shawn Henry, assistant director of the FBI's cyber division.

So far, Henry said, the FBI has set up new cybercrime offices in four countries, including Romania, Estonia and the Netherlands, and is hoping to add two or three more over the next year. Henry would not name the fourth country.

The cybercrime specialists operate in addition to the 61 legal attache offices the FBI has overseas.

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