Share/E-mail This Story

Email This



FBI Preaches Dangers Of 'Cybercrime' To The Choir

from the getting-sick-of-the-word-'cyber' dept

FBI Director Robert Mueller recently spoke at a cybersecurity conference where he reiterated his belief that so-called cybercrime will soon surpass terrorism as the biggest threat in America. Perhaps this means that the FBI plans to start manufacturing cyber-threats like they do with terrorist plots—or perhaps it means that, as some people have been saying for years, cybercrime is just crime. Of course, in a room full of professionals who stand to make more money if people are scared of online threats, he's not likely to get a lot of argument.

That's not meant to dismiss cybersecurity professionals—obviously they do a lot of important work, and obviously the FBI is going to need their assistance for plenty of things. But to call cybercrime the country's biggest threat is to lump together a whole bunch of unrelated crimes, most of which aren't even new:

"We are losing data, we are losing money, we are losing ideas and we are losing innovation,' Mueller said at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. 'Together we must find a way to stop the bleeding."

The dangers posed by organized cyber-crime, rogue hacktivists and computer breaches backed by foreign governments have become a focus for the FBI.

Counterterrorism is still the agency's top priority, but the agency has retooled to prepare for Internet-based aggressors, Mueller said. Cyber-squads in every FBI field office now monitor for crimes ranging from mortgage and health care fraud to child exploitation and terror recruiting, he said.

Presumably the FBI already has people specializing in mortgage and health care fraud, child exploitation and terror recruiting—so why portion off the "cyber" versions of these crimes into a separate "squad"? To then combine those things with hacktivism and online espionage just makes the category of "cybercrime" utterly meaningless. It is indicative of their struggle (which mirrors that of governments, the entertainment industry and others) to understand a core concept: the internet is not a separate thing. And even if there is a good administrative reason for organizing things in this way, it is highly misleading to call such a diverse array of crimes a single giant threat.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:58am

    FBI Decides To Do Their Job

    "Cyber-squads in every FBI field office now monitor for crimes ranging from mortgage" [fraud]

    Good to hear. So the FBI will now be prosecuting the bad guys who committed the largest mortgage-related fraud in history, the one that caused the global financial crisis?

    "and health care fraud"

    Yet more good news. May we expect the FBI to come down hard on the scientific fraud being committed by big drug companies pushing their latest newly-patented drugs? Said drugs being no better than earlier drugs which have now got generic competition.

    "to child exploitation"

    At last! The FBI will be dealing harshly with pimps who import under-age girls for prostitution. Wasn't it funny how the girls got punished, yet the pimps got away with it. before. Well, no more.

    "and terror recruiting"

    This will be the most remarkable change of all. The biggest terror recruiters are US diplomats who attempt to push tyrannical laws on foreign countries. It will be quite remarkable to see the FBI arresting them. The State Department might actually have to start doing its own job, so that they do not get arrested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:02am

    Excuse me, but "cyber-crime" and "rogue hacktivist"? Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:07am

    Mike...

    Mike, your weak argument is favouring evil internet terrorists again. You should stop pushing your evil pirate-terrorist agenda, Mike. Mike, this is... oh, well, whatever, I guess Leigh is just another of your anonymous online alteregos. The first step in fighting a anti-cyber-terrorism-piracy-war is the banning of anonymous commenting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    steve, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:08am

    It's because of how they see geeks

    The problem is that people tend to divide the world into people who understand computers and people who don't. The distinction between a games programmer and a DBA is lost on them.

    For that reason, the idea of setting up a department of people like McGee from NCIS, who seems to know everything about everything. This means that when they have a problem with mortgages, the cybercrime dept can swing into action, etc.

    The problem is that they have failed to understand that a) McGee is fictional. b) Computers are not separate from normal crime. Everything uses computers now. I think it's scary that they think it's acceptable to have investigators who aren't tech savvy, and to have investigative divisions without expert tech support.

    They would be better off having specialist mortgage fraud investigators, some of whom are experts in the computer problems mortgage fraud investigators face dedicated to the area, than expert geeks with only a hazy understanding of the specific problems of mortgage fraud being shared across multiple departments.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:16am

    This is kabuki theater

    First, the feds have (and have had, for many years) enormous IT security problems. For example, let's start with the FBI: FBI lost 160 laptops in last 44 months. Does anything think they ONLY lost 160 laptops? Does anyone think that this problem has been solved?

    Then let's move on the federal government as whole: Half of Fortune 500s, US Govt. Still Infected with DNSChanger Trojan which is pretty bad -- but only focuses on ONE species of malware. Surely nobody is naive to think that this is the only one infesting federal computer systems.

    The GAO routinely issues F grades in IT security to federal agencies, and they're being generous. Things were so bad at point that a judge ordered the Department of Interior disconnected from the Internet.

    Second, the feds' proposed solutions to any of this are initiatives, checklists, guidelines, procedures, regulations, audits, certifications...none of which have any security value. Oh, and most of them involve huge contracts outsourcing the tasks to the pigs at the trough: companies like StratFor, run by utterly incompetent morons who are quite willing to use Google in return for tens of millions of federal dollars.

    As Wired so aptly put it, Cyberwar Is the New Yellowcake: nobody, including Mueller actually cares about cyberwar: what they care about is ending an open Internet. They want control of ISPs and web hosts, they want information feeds from mobile providers and GPS devices, they want spyware embedded in computers, they want...they want everything they can possibly get, and they think that pushing the scare of cyberwar is the way to get it.

    So there will be bill after stupid bill, pushed along by the feeble-minded idiots in Congress, and eventually one of them (or maybe more than one of them) will pass, and the end result will be that it will make computing LESS secure...but it will be trumpeted as a triumph, there will be handshakes all around, and then the competition over who can waste the most money will begin in earnest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:21am

    Fear mongering at its finest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    izzitme101, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:43am

    sounds familiar

    This kind of fud sounds familiar, does he happen to be florian's brother by any chance?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:45am

    Follow the money

    The FBI spends the biggest chunk of its "“cybercrime” budget busting people who collect kiddie-porn.

    Look up the GAO and Inspector General reports. Follow the money. See the priorites.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:51am

    Issue 1: There are lobbyists on the hill promoting the idea that their overpriced, private solution is the only way to protect us.

    Issue 2: The FBI gets a budget based on headlines, not actual work or success.

    Issue 3: Congresscritters actually revel in their ignorance about the internet and computers.

    Issue 4: They assume if it has been seen in a TV show or motion picture it has to be based in reality.

    What we have is a perfect storm.
    A director scared his funding might get cut, which when one examines what they have been doing should be cut (How much are we loosing on each lost GPS tracker?), so he is making a public statement that they need more.
    Congresscritters and their corporate sponsors terrified that Anonymous might hack them and offer solid proof to all of the evil that we all like to turn a blind eye to them doing.
    We still have a public who somehow, I can't explain it except with mass brain damage, think that these laws and ideas will only apply to the "bad people" and as "good people" they have nothing to fear. In the face of TSA agents feeling up children and senior citizens they still proclaim this invasion makes them safer. They are complacent in handing over their rights for the illusion of safety, and would rather focus on birth certificates and shutting down the largest abortion provider. (And some how mentally ignore their own "sides" actions in forcing smaller providers out of business by using guns, bombs, and mass murder... to "save" the children).

    And this is a talk given at a conference managed by a "security firm" who has managed to get a few headlines lately.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_%28security_firm%29#Security_Breach

    Maybe once they secure themselves, then they might have the right to suggest what is good for everyone else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 4:58am

    Re: This is kabuki theater

    Eloquent and to the point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:01am

    This is another good example of why the entire government needs to be restructured. Laws, technology, everything has evolved except politics. The same old tried-and-corruption-approved concepts have been in place for too long, and it's time for an overhaul. This isn't a government for the people by the people, this is a government that gets rich from the people.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:06am

    Re:

    "Issue 4: They assume if it has been seen in a TV show or motion picture it has to be based in reality."

    Alright boss, all we have is this low res security cam.

    No problemo, bring it up on the big screen - Rotate 90 degrees, zoom in, enhance.

    See the reflection in her eye? - Crop, zoom in, enhance.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re:

    To be fair I did once see a show in which that suggestion was met with:

    "But his ia a video picture, her eye is just a couple of pixels - no matter what you do with it it will still be just a couple of pixels!"

    Only happened once mind...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:24am

    Next!

    Congressional Checklist

    1. protect children
    2. drugs are bad
    3. porn is bad
    4. the terrorists are coming (holy grail so far)
    5. cyber bad stuff (could be the next big thing)
    6. protect jobs (of wealthy donors, but NEVER say it that way)
    7. patriotism (say it and never be specific)
    8. when in doubt, use any combination of 1, 4, & 7

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:28am

    Re: This is kabuki theater

    +1
    Keep up the Fear and sell the weak on it.
    Use the words Terrorists,cyber-crime, save the children, ETC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    the best way for the FBI to progress and convince Congress etc that funding is needed:

    1)spin complete bull shit
    2)spin that complete bullshit to the most gullible/stupid, but self-interested people you can find
    3)ensure that certain people/companies will benefit from the complete bullshit you're spinning
    4)make sure that their is some encouragement for you from those that are going to benefit most from that bullshit

    Mueller is doing what he does best, so gotta be on a winner!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:01am

    Losing innovation?

    If we are losing innovation, then to place the blame you need look no further than the USPTO.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:03am

    How can we trust the things they say when they continue to be the biggest supporters of their own corruption

    As far as im aware there are no measures to focus their efforts on corruption in their system, no laws that are easilly identified to fight the corruption, no laws protecting anyone who has proof of such corruption, no laws aginst interference from those with power who stand to lose something, and no laws for harsh punishments regardles of station, power or influence, to those proven without a doubt to corrupt a system that is meant to serve the people

    When measures like those start to take place, then i can start to put faith on a system i fear to be majorly corrupted, that the individual giving the speech is not corrupted

    Trust, one i find hard to give our governments!
    They've let it come to the point that no fancy speech will do now, no PR or PC or Security reason bullshit, they have to backup and now prove everything they say with cold hard facts, that can be easilly taken apart and analyzed to be proven acurate, no estimation no and deflecting such enquiries, issentially ignoring the issue, will just lead us to assume that we are right, that they either do not care or have something to hide, in this case, the truth

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:07am

    Does "cyber" still look like a word?

    CyberFBI CyberDirector Robert Mueller recently cyberspoke at a cybersecurity cyberconference where he cyberreiterated his cyberbelief that so-called cybercybercrime will soon surpass cyberterrorism as the biggest cyberthreat in CyberAmerica. Perhaps this cybermeans that the CyberFBI plans to start cybermanufacturing cyber-threats like they do with cyberterrorist cyberplots - or perhaps it cybermeans that, as some cyberpeople have been cybersaying for cyberyears, cybercybercrime is just cybercrime. Of course, in a cyberroom full of cyberprofessionals who cyberstand to make more cybermoney if cyberpeople are cyberscared of online cyberthreats, he's not cyberlikely to get a lot of cyberargument.

    That's not cybermeant to cyberdismiss cybersecurity cyberprofessionals - cyberobviously they do a lot of important cyberwork, and cyberobviously the CyberFBI is going to cyberneed their cyberassistance for plenty of cyberthings. But to cybercall cybercybercrime the cybercountry's biggest cyberthreat is to cyberlump a whole cyberbunch of unrelated cybercrimes, most of which aren't even cybernew:
    "'We are losing cyberdata, we are losing cybermoney, we are losing cyberideas and we are losing cyberinnovation,' Mueller cybersaid at the RSA CyberConference in CyberSan CyberFrancisco. 'Together we must cyberfind a cyberway to cyberstop the cyberbleeding.'"

    The cyberdangers posed by cyberorganized cyber-cybercrime, cyberrogue cyberhacktivists and computer cyberbreaches cyberbacked by foreign cybergovernments have become a cyberfocus for the CyberFBI.

    Countercyberterrorism is still the cyberagency's top cyberpriority, but the cyberagency has recybertooled to cyberprepare for Internet-based cyberaggressors, Mueller said. Cyber-cybersquads in every CyberFBI cyberfield cyberoffice now cybermonitor for cybercrimes ranging from cybermortgage and cyberhealth cybercare cyberfraud to cyberchild cyberexploitation and cyberterror cyberrecruiting, he cybersaid.

    Presumably the CyberFBI already has cyberpeople cyberspecializing in cybermortgage and cyberhealth cybercare cyberfraud, cyberchild cyberexploitation and cyberterror cyberrecruiting - so why cyberportion off the "cyber" cyberversions of these cybercrimes into a separate "cybersquad"? To then cybercombine those cyberthings with cyberhacktivism and online cyberespionage just cybermakes the cybercategory of "cybercybercrime" utterly cybermeaningless. It is cyberindicative of their cyberstruggle (which cybermirrors that of cybergovernments, the cyberentertainment cyberindustry and cyberothers) to cyberunderstand a cybercore cyberconcept: the internet is not a cyberseparate cyberthing. And even if there is a good cyberadministrative cyberreason for cyberorganizing things in this cyberway, it is highly cybermisleading to cybercall such a cyberdiverse cyberarray of cybercrimes a single giant cyberthreat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Sam C, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:11am

    Losing innovation...

    How exactly does one lose innovation and ideas? Amnesia? Procrastination? Cybercrime is destroying the work ethic of the common man, AND causes amnesia!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:29am

    Re: FBI Decides To Do Their Job

    Good to hear. So the FBI will now be prosecuting the bad guys who committed the largest mortgage-related fraud in history, the one that caused the global financial crisis?

    Not only that, but they'll be figuring out who made $1.2 billion dollars worth of MF Global customer money disappear.

    Oh, wait...no, no, no...it's more important to shut down a hip-hop blog. Yep. Definitely a priority.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:34am

    Re: This is kabuki theater

    So there will be bill after stupid bill, pushed along by the feeble-minded idiots in Congress, and eventually one of them (or maybe more than one of them) will pass, and the end result will be that it will make computing LESS secure

    Couldn't agree more.

    The root cause of most computer security problems are from not understanding how computers work and their limitations. And everyone can make this mistake - an average user, some highly paid exec, or a programmer.

    (This opinion brought to you by an Information Security Professional who could probably be making more money if he was inclined to buy in to the fear-mongering.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:34am

    A change in the winds of fear

    What this indicates to me is that the feds are changing their theme for fear marketing.

    The amorphous concepts of "terrorism" and "cybercrime", being both orthogonal (one is a motivation and the other is a method) and overlapping (e.g. Al-Qaeda hackers), belies the bull poopy on display.

    The statement "cybercrime will soon surpass terrorism as the biggest threat in America" is so riddled with misleading implications it's stunning people didn't laugh in his face.

    It implies that the threats has not only been quantified somehow (whatever biggest means), but that they have projections! How does one quantify these threats? Is there a scale ranging from "small child with a balloon" up to "Galactus feeling peckish"?

    Would love to see more than Dir. of FBI wringing his hands in front of a bunch of panting consultants before I give this even an iota of credence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Trails (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: FBI Decides To Do Their Job

    Dajaz1.com is killing mortgage fraud!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:43am

    Isn't the real point that street crime has given way to crime using or enabled by computer? That instead of having to worry about getting robbed walking down the street, your money is stolen in a phishing scam or another computer fraud. I think that its about having more resources patrolling the web than the neighborhood.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    E. Zachary Knight (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:50am

    Re: FBI Decides To Do Their Job

    "and terror recruiting"

    I thought that meant they would be ending their own terrorist recruitment programs. After all, the US FBI has recruited more terrorists than any other organization in the US.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    TDR, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:51am

    To paraphrase from a famous 80's teen movie about a certain kid playing hooky from school:

    "Mueller... Mueller..."

    Although Mueller in this case would be more akin to Principal Rooney than Ferris.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Seegras (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:53am

    Re: Losing innovation...

    What they mean is "our ideas get copied, our innovation gets copied, without anyone paying for it".

    Apart from those ideas like "censoring the internet" or "propagating intellectual monopolies" of course, which the very same people are happy to export everywhere.

    How about going on "inventing" something, you know, "technical" instead? Instead of inventing "policy", I mean...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    ....and that show probably got canceled.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 7:05am

    "Presumably the FBI already has people specializing in mortgage and health care fraud, child exploitation and terror recruiting—so why portion off the "cyber" versions of these crimes into a separate "squad"?"

    Because how else are you going to make it inefficient to the point of being comical?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 7:55am

    Re:

    "cyber-crime" most definitely is trying to sound important and to know what you're talking about. "Rogue hactivist" is actually FBI code for Anonymous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 8:01am

    Re: FBI Decides To Do Their Job

    So the FBI will now be prosecuting the bad guys who committed the largest mortgage-related fraud in history, the one that caused the global financial crisis?

    He he he... Nope. The FBI actually has ignored the ones that did the mortgage backed lending. They have the people dead to rights and yet, they've let them walk. I'm not surprised. Guess who gives exorbitant amounts to the police to ensure they don't get prosecuted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 8:14am

    Police and Criminals...

    The only difference between them is the badge.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    TtfnJohn (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 8:27am

    Re: Next!

    But..but..but..how could anyone be against 1,2,3,4,5, and 7?

    As for protecting jobs. The middle class might have a small and nasty comment to make about that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 8:52am

    Re:

    Isn't the real point that street crime has given way to crime using or enabled by computer? That instead of having to worry about getting robbed walking down the street, your money is stolen in a phishing scam or another computer fraud. I think that its about having more resources patrolling the web than the neighborhood.

    (1) Since when is the FBI policing petty street muggers?

    (2) No, those two things are incredibly different

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 10:33am

    Re: Next!

    All right. You could, uh, start out with a little 1, a 2, a 1-2-3, a 3, a 5, a 4, a 3-2, 2, a 2-4-6, 2-4-6, 4, 2, 2, 4-7, 5-7, 6-7, 7... 7... 7... 7 7 7 7 7 7... seven.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Michael (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    Re: This is kabuki theater

    War on Drugs ends; War on Cyber begins?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Michael (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Re: Follow the money

    Why can't they follow the money and bust the people making kiddie-porn?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    Michael (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 12:50pm

    Re:

    Bueller?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    TDR, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re:

    Yep. Actually, Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a prime example of how smart kids will always outwit and outmaneuver bumbling, inept bureaucrats every time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2012 @ 3:00pm

    RSA weren't they hacked and then didn't tell people that the RSA secure keys were no good?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 5:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: FBI Decides To Do Their Job

    I hear most indie music blogs are really a front for Al Qeada to poison our countries youth! first piracy, next terrorism! o.0

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Watchit (profile), Mar 5th, 2012 @ 10:14pm

    Re: Does "cyber" still look like a word?

    This is me flipping the cyber-table after reading your comment:

    (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This