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The FBI has long been a force in combating cybercrime. In the last year alone, the agency has busted dozens involved in the online trafficking of credit card and bank account data, arrested key members of the Anonymous and LulzSec hacktivist groups, broken up a sophisticated gang of online bank fraudsters, taken down a small-town mayor for hacking a website calling for his recall and worked closely with international officials to disrupt a botnet that had stolen $14 million.
However, the FBI still wants to get better, especially in its ability to attribute attacks to the hackers behind them. Attribution of cybercrime has long been the bane of law enforcement due to the nature of the Internet and the ability of hackers to spoof their IP addresses and rely heavily on proxies. As the adage says, on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
[ Cybercrime is a growing problem. See Hack Exposes Most South Carolinians' Social Security Numbers. ]
Over the course of the last year, the law enforcement agency has launched an effort to "uncover and investigate Web-based intrusion attacks and develop a cadre of specially trained computer scientists able to extract hackers' digital signatures from mountains of malicious code," the FBI said in a press release. For example, the FBI has increasingly hired computer scientists to work alongside agents as part of cyber investigations.
The question the FBI is attempting to resolve is "who is conducting the attack or the exploitation and what is their motive," FBI assistant director of criminal, cyber, response and services Richard McFeely said in a statement. "In order to get to that, we've got to do all the necessary analysis to determine who is at the other end of the keyboard perpetrating these actions."
Such an effort requires not only new talent and better tools, but also ongoing collaboration with organizations that get hacked and other government agencies. To that end, the FBI said that its agents are working to build relationships with critical infrastructure companies in industries like finance and transportation. The FBI is also sharing a lot of information with the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency as part of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force.