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Attacks/Breaches

3/1/2012
07:13 PM
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FBI Director Urges Attack Intelligence-Sharing Between Companies And The Bureau

Teamwork in fighting cybercrime is the way "to stop the bleeding," Robert Mueller tells RSA Conference attendees

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RSA CONFERENCE 2012 -- San Francisco, Calif. -- FBI director Robert Mueller in a keynote address here today urged real-time sharing of cybercrime and threat intelligence between the public and private sectors akin to the type of cooperation forged to fight terrorism post-9/11.

"Real-time information-sharing is essential. Much can and should be done to share with the private sector and, in turn, give the private sector the means and motivation to work with us" at the FBI, Mueller said.

The FBI is continuing to build specialized cybercrime task forces to work locally with state and local law enforcement, Mueller said. "It's a similar model to the terrorism task force, but to fight cybercrime," he said. "As we continue to share information, we will continue to break down the walls that [block] our abilities to share such information -- the same way we did [after] the Sept. 11 [terrorist] attacks."

Mueller said the FBI now has specialized cybersquads in each of its 50 field offices.

But companies traditionally have been frustrated with sharing their breach information with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies: They say it's more of a one-way street, where they share but then never hear back from law enforcement.

Mueller acknowledged that fear in his speech, and promised that the agency will reciprocate: "You may think the information flow is one-way to us," he said. "We will share what we can and as quickly as we can ... A code of silence will not serve us in the long run."

He said the FBI understands why companies are hesitant to share their breach information with the bureau. "We do understand that you may be reluctant to report security breaches to us because it may harm you competitively or the wills will erode shareholder confidence," he said.

The FBI doesn't want companies to feel victimized a second time by its investigation of the breach, he said. "There will be minimal disruption to your business and we will safeguard your privacy" and protective orders for trade secrets and business confidentiality, he said.

Sharing intelligence is key because organizations and law enforcement can learn from the attack information to deter future attacks and to help with the ultimate goal of attribution, he said. "Attribution is critical to deter future attacks," Mueller added.

Mueller said the FBI is pushing for Congress to pass legislation for national data breach reporting that requires companies to report "significant breaches" and to share information about the attack.

"The end result is we are losing data, we are losing money, we are losing ideas, and we are losing innovation," Mueller said. "As citizens, we are increasingly vulnerable to losing our information. And together, we must find a way to stop the bleeding."

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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