| NEWS of the Day - March 2, 2012
|on some issues of interest to the community policing and neighborhood activist across the country
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following group of articles from local newspapers and other sources constitutes but a small percentage of the information available to the community policing and neighborhood activist public. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view ...
We present this simply as a convenience to our readership ...
From Los Angeles Times
California physician assistant wins $168 million in harassment suit
Ani Chopourian told of sexually inappropriate conduct, bullying and retaliation at a Sacramento hospital. The award is believed to be the largest for a single victim of workplace harassment in U.S. history.
by Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
March 2, 2012
Ani Chopourian lost track of how many complaints she filed during the two years she worked as a physician assistant at Sacramento's Mercy General Hospital.
There were at least 18, she recalled, many having to do with the bullying surgeon who once stabbed her with a needle and broke the ribs of an anesthetized heart patient in a fit of rage. Another surgeon, she said, would greet her each morning with "I'm horny" and slap her bottom. Yet another called her "stupid chick" in the operating room and made disparaging remarks about her Armenian heritage, asking if she had joined Al Qaeda.
Managers from Mercy General, a unit of Catholic Healthcare West, told a Sacramento trial court that it was Chopourian who was guilty of professional misconduct, which was why they fired her and tried to deny her unemployment benefits.
But in a stunning rebuke of the hospital's side of the story, a jury Wednesday awarded Chopourian $168 million in damages, believed to be the largest judgment for a single victim of workplace harassment in U.S. history.
"They were just shocked by the whole workplace environment," said Lawrance Bohm, Chopourian's attorney during the three-week trial in which witness after witness depicted a culture of vulgarity and arrogance they said humiliated female employees and put patients at risk.
Chopourian, 45, worked at four other hospitals in New England and California before joining the cardiovascular surgical team at Mercy General in August 2006. Two years later, she was fired days after filing the last of her complaints about patient care and the doctors' demeaning behavior.
Preening cardiac surgeons and locker-room humor weren't unique to the Sacramento hospital's operating rooms or those at another Catholic Healthcare West facility where she occasionally worked, Chopourian said in an interview.
"But the environment at Mercy General, the sexually inappropriate conduct and the patient care issues being ignored, the bullying and intimidation and retaliation —– I have never seen an environment so hostile and pervasive," said the Los Angeles native, who earned her physician assistant credentials at the Yale School of Medicine in 1999.
The jurors in U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller's courtroom heard hospital administrators defend their management practices and attest to unwavering commitment to quality patient care.
But the litany of abuses detailed by current and former employees apparently swayed the jury to accept Chopourian's allegations that administrators put up with gross misbehavior in the cardiac unit to stroke the surgeons' outsize egos.
"Cardiac surgery brings in the most money for any hospital facility, which is why they are willing to turn a blind eye to illegal and inappropriate behavior," Chopourian said. "We had four very strong witnesses who were frightened to speak out but did so because they felt it was important that someone put a stop to this."
Bohm conceded that the record judgment — $125 million in punitive damages and $42.7 million for lost wages and mental anguish — could be reduced on appeal or in settlement talks to avoid what would probably be a protracted challenge to the generous award. But he said he was confident the jury's judgment against the hospital chain would survive appellate review.
Mercy General President Denny Powell said the hospital stood by its decision to fire Chopourian and would appeal the verdict.
"We are disappointed by the jury's decision. We are committed to providing a safe working environment, free from sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior," Powell said in a statement issued Thursday. "Any complaint is thoroughly investigated and prompt action is taken. We do not believe that the facts support this verdict or judgment."
Catholic Healthcare West, which recently changed its name to Dignity Health, operates 40 hospitals and care centers in California, Arizona and Nevada.
From Google News
Malloy challenges Secure Communities
by Ben Prawdzik
March 2, 2012
As of Thursday afternoon, no Connecticut immigrants had been detained through Secure Communities, a federal deportation program that was implemented statewide on Feb. 22. Still, Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration is taking measures that could curb the program's efforts in the state.
Under Secure Communities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials check police fingerprints of criminal suspects against ICE databases in an effort to deport criminals residing in the country illegally. If ICE officials believe a suspect may be undocumented, they can issue a detainment request that the state hold the individual in custody so that ICE can determine whether to initiate deportation proceedings. Mike Lawlor, the state's undersecretary for criminal justice and policy planning, said state administrators are currently drafting a “checklist” that will be used to determine the cases in which the state will comply with ICE's detainment requests and when the requests will be ignored. He said the checklist will be a set of specific criteria to ensure that ICE is only able to deport dangerous convicts and not those who are guilty of minor crimes.
Two days prior to Secure Communities' implementation, Malloy, who has openly criticized the program, hinted at the checklist when he released a statement through his office that said state law enforcement would decide whether to honor deportation requests on a “case-by-case basis.”
“ICE says Secure Communities will focus on deporting serious offenders, so our goal is to take the way the program has been advertised and reduce that to a checklist,” Lawlor said. “If you meet the criteria, law enforcement will detain you, and if not, you will be released.”
Lawlor said Malloy's office, the Department of Correction, and the attorney general's office are currently formulating the checklist. He added that the program “is seriously flawed and risks undermining community policing efforts” to build trust between immigrants and law enforcement.
Lawlor cited instances of domestic violence as evidence of the negative effect Secure Communities could have on Connecticut residents.
“Let's say you are a victim of family violence — if your significant other, the breadwinner in the family, happens to be in the undocumented category and he will be deported if you call police, that's going to affect your decision,” Lawlor said. “And that's not hypothetical, that's real stuff. That does happen.”
Despite widespread criticism of the program, which Yale Law School students in the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic are contesting in a lawsuit, ICE spokesman Ross Feinstein defended Secure Communities and said it has demonstrated its effectiveness in focusing deportation efforts on criminal offenders. He added that 94 percent of those deported through Secure Communities are either convicted criminals, recent illegal border entrants, fugitives or repeat offenders.
Feinstein maintained ICE's authority to request that states detain requested suspects, though he acknowledged that the agency lacks the authority to force states to comply with the requests.
“Law enforcement agencies that honor ICE detainment requests ultimately help protect public safety,” Feinstein said. “ICE anticipates that law enforcement will comply with the detainers, though we have not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings.”
Feinstein added that he believed jurisdictions that ignore ICE's detainment requests should bear responsibility for possible public safety risks.
Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has also been a vocal critic of Secure Communities, and City Hall spokeswoman Elizabeth Benton '04 said the mayor remains concerned about the program's threat to the New Haven Police Department's efforts to return the city to a community policing strategy of law enforcement.
“Secure Communities runs counter to the relationships and trust we are working to grow via community policing,” Benton said. “When we create barriers between residents and police, and between residents and important public services, our city as a whole suffers.”
Following Secure Communities' implementation in Connecticut, Malloy also ordered a review of the program to be undertaken by the Department of Correction. Brian Garnett, the department's director of external affairs, said the review is in its “very initial stages.”
Mayor, Police Chief Announce March on Crime Initiative
HOUSTON, TX - At a news briefing Thursday (March 1), Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. announced the department's 28th annual “March on Crime/Lucha Contra El Crimen.”
For the entire month of March, the Houston Police Department will highlight education initiatives to address property crimes such as burglaries of motor vehicles (BMVs) and burglaries of residences and businesses.
“HPD is a community policing department and this is just one of the initiatives that reinforces that,” said Chief McClelland. “There is no more effective strategy than someone educating themselves and protecting themselves and their property,” he added.
Crime prevention starts with citizens, said Mayor Parker.
“The Houston Police Department is not the frontline in preventing crime,” said Mayor Parker. “The frontline in preventing crime is individuals doing the right thing. It is neighborhoods coming together to coordinate their activities, to communicate with each other and then work with the police,” she added.
Community policing does not just happen in March, HPD officers work to educate community members all year long.
“We focus on crime every single day, every single month,” said Chief McClelland. “But this is a good opportunity for us to reinforce all of these things.”
Following Thursday's media briefing, officers from HPD's North Patrol Division distributed theft reduction report cards on motorists' windshields at the Houston Community College at 1000 Pinemont. The officers gave students a passing or failing grade depending upon whether the offices found vehicle doors unlocked, windows opened or cracked and if valuables were left in plain view.
For more crime safety information, visit the HPD website at www.houstonpolice.org and click on the “Keep Houston Safe” logo.
From the Department of Justice
Deputy Attorney General James Cole Speaks at High Level Hemispheric Meeting Against Transnational Organized Crime
Mexico City ~ Thursday, March 1, 2012
Mr. President, Madame Attorney General, Madame Minister, Mr. Secretary General, distinguished attorneys general and guests.
It is a distinct pleasure to be in Mexico City at today's Hemispheric Meeting and to have the unique opportunity to speak with you – our shared partners in the Americas and Spain – about transnational organized crime, undoubtedly a global menace that we must work together to defeat. Organized criminals have adapted rapidly to the new, globalized world. They are, in fact, helping to shape that world, and not in a good direction. Our peoples, our governments, must prove equally adaptable if we are to prevail. The steps that the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. government as a whole, and our partners around the world are taking to address the threat cannot be overstated.
For many decades the fight against organized crime has been one of the highest enforcement priorities of the Department of Justice. Many dedicated agents and prosecutors over the past 80 years have devoted their careers to the battle against the families of La Cosa Nostra, Italian-American crime groups that at one time existed in most major cities in the United States. More recently, agents and prosecutors have brought an equal level of dedication to the fight against the narco-trafficking cartels, who have been and remain some of the most sophisticated and dangerous transnational organized crime groups in the world.
But even as we continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute these criminal groups, we are aware that the landscape of organized crime has been shifting. The advance of globalization and the internet, while hugely beneficial to people everywhere, has also created unparalleled opportunities for criminals to expand their operations and use the facilities of global communication and commerce to carry out their criminal activities across national borders.
In December 2010 the United States government completed a comprehensive review of international crime. That review concluded that in the previous 15 years transnational criminal networks have forged new and powerful alliances among themselves and with powerful figures in business and government, and that they are engaged in an unprecedented range of illicit activities that are destabilizing to nations and populations around the globe.
Our review noted that the new transnational organized crime groups pose special challenges to law enforcement. For example, some countries undergoing the transition from authoritarian rule often serve as fertile breeding grounds for organized crime. These countries face serious organized crime challenges that will stifle not only their own economic development, but will also have global implications in our increasingly interconnected world.
Organized crime groups in the past often featured rigid lines of authority and closed
memberships. This not only imposed a level of discipline, but it also made them easier to define and combat. The newer organizations often consist of loose networks of individuals or groups that may cooperate on an ad hoc basis to share expertise, skills and resources, while still operating independently and transcending national boundaries. This allows criminals to more easily evade law enforcement and to adapt quickly to changing market conditions. The decentralized nature of their operations also means that law enforcement can no longer cripple the network by arresting a few key leaders.
Because of the sophistication of the world economy, organized crime groups have developed an ability to exploit legitimate actors and their skills in order to further the criminal enterprises. For example, transnational organized criminal groups often rely on lawyers to facilitate illicit transactions. These lawyers create shell companies, open offshore bank accounts in the names of those shell companies, and launder criminal proceeds through trust accounts. Other lawyers working for organized crime figures bring frivolous libel cases against individuals who expose their criminal activities. Business owners and bankers are enlisted to launder money, and employees of legitimate companies are used to conceal smuggling operations. The range of illicit-to-licit relationships is broad. At one end, criminals draw on the public reputations of legitimate actors to maintain a facade of legality for their operations. At the other end are specialists with skills or resources who have been completely subsumed into the criminal networks.
The range of criminal activities that these transnational organized crime groups engage in is extremely broad. While our review concentrated on the crimes these groups were committing in the United States, we see evidence that these groups are committing the same crimes from locations in many other countries as well. I'd like to offer a few examples.
Transnational organized criminals are penetrating key strategic markets. Our review found that alliances between organized criminals and oligarchs from the former Soviet Union threaten U.S. businesses and domestic markets. Industry officials in certain sectors like commodities fear that quasi-licit firms and individuals with major organized crime ties are gaining market share. With their international business connections, large sums of money and political ties, some Eurasian oligarchs operate as quasi-legitimate business figures to open the doors of U.S. companies and markets to organized crime influence.
We also found that transnational organized crime groups increasingly use cyberspace to target U.S. consumers and businesses, using a variety of techniques to drain their bank accounts and steal their identities. In addition to “phishing”, advanced fee fraud schemes and Internet auction fraud, criminals use more sophisticated techniques such as the remote targeting of point-of-sale machines. The U.S. Secret Service estimates that criminals using anonymous web sites to buy and sell stolen identities have caused billions of dollars in losses to the United States' financial infrastructure. Some estimates indicate that online frauds perpetrated by Central European cybercrime networks alone have defrauded U.S. citizens or entities of approximately $1 billion in a single year.
Transnational organized crime groups are increasingly engaging in a variety of public sector fraud, including frauds against the U.S. Government. Such crimes include food stamp and welfare fraud, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, and government grant and loan program fraud. For example, in October 2010 seventy-three defendants, including a number of alleged members and associates of an Armenian-American organized crime enterprise, were charged with various health care fraud-related crimes involving more than $163 million in fraudulent billing to Medicare and insurance companies.
We also found that transnational organized criminal networks are increasingly active in stealing critical U.S. intellectual property, including through intrusions into corporate and proprietary computer networks. Theft of this kind of property, ranging from movies to proprietary designs of high-tech devices and manufacturing processes, causes significant business losses and erodes our competitiveness in the global marketplace. From 2005 to 2010 the yearly value of seizures in the United States of illegal products that violated intellectual property laws jumped from $93 million to $188 million. Products originating in China accounted for 66 per cent of these seizures in 2010.
Finally, transnational criminals prey upon weaknesses and differences in international transportation and customs security regimes. Specialized criminal networks feature prominently in the trafficking of narcotics, the movement of contraband items, the counterfeiting of goods and the smuggling and trafficking of humans into the United States. For example, between 2005 and 2007, we identified several Uzbek criminal networks engaged in human trafficking. They operated cleaning companies that exploited guest workers to service national hotel and retail chains, and they moved operations regularly to avoid detection. Similarly, drug cartels' control of smuggling routes along the 2,000 mile border with the United States is a key to their ability to make money. Human traffickers have also exploited those same smuggling routes across the U.S.-Mexico border to target undocumented migrants for labor or sex trafficking.
What are the results of these disturbing trends and new patterns of crime? In short, our review concluded that transnational organized crime has risen to the level of a national security threat. Countries in key regions around the world are finding their governments penetrated, weakened and even taken over by organized crime, undermining their democratic institutions and prospects for economic growth. Economies, including critical markets and the world financial system are being subverted, exploited and distorted by organized criminals through corruption and violence, making it harder for legitimate businesses to compete in those markets and harder for those economies to develop and provide jobs for the law abiding citizens. Terrorists and insurgents are increasingly turning to organized crime to generate funding and acquire logistical support to carry out their violent acts. Cybercrime threatens sensitive government and corporate computer networks, undermines confidence in the international financial system, and costs consumers billions of dollars annually. And despite our many successes, illicit drugs remain a serious threat to the health, safety, security and financial well-being of our citizens.
These are sobering findings, made even more so by the fact that we recognize that our domestic law enforcement, working alone, cannot defeat these threats. Organized crime cases, involving informants, undercover agents, wiretaps, cooperating witnesses and sophisticated legal tools, are already among the most complex and challenging investigations undertaken by the Justice Department. Transposed to an international setting, where much of our evidence and many of our witnesses and defendants reside in other countries, and where the rules governing investigations that cross numerous borders are quite complex and at times inadequate, the demands of an organized crime investigation can quickly outstrip any level of resources that we are able to devote to it. The result in too many cases will inevitably be that the most culpable individuals are not brought to justice.
But, far from despairing, we believe that recognizing the scale of the challenges facing us is the first step to overcoming them. Under the leadership of the White House, the Department of Justice and other parts of the U.S. government came together and developed the Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, which was released in July of last year. The Strategy set out several overarching goals to be achieved by our government to meet the threat of transnational organized crime.
First, we must protect our citizens and the citizens and nationals of our partner nations from the harm, violence and exploitation of transnational criminal networks. Under the Strategy, we are targeting the networks that pose the gravest threat to safety and security, including those that traffic illicit drugs, arms and people, sell substandard, tainted and counterfeit goods, commit robberies, extortions and kidnappings, and seek to terrorize and intimidate through acts of torture and murder.
Second, we must help partner countries strengthen governance and transparency, break the ability of transnational criminal networks to corrupt public officials, and sever alliances between criminals and governments. We recognize that we need willing, reliable and capable partners to combat the corruption and instability generated by transnational organized crime. We are actively working with our international partners to develop capabilities to strengthen public safety, security and justice institutions to fight these threats.
Third, we must break the economic power of transnational criminal networks and protect our markets and financial systems from penetration by organized crime. We have already begun a program of attacking the financial underpinnings of the top transnational criminals, stripping them of their illicit wealth, cutting off their access to the financial system, and exposing their criminal activities hidden behind legitimate fronts.
Finally, we must build international consensus, multilateral cooperation, and public-private partnerships to defeat transnational organized crime. Stopping organized crime is not a task limited to one government, or even many governments. We must build new partnerships, new networks, with industry, finance, academia, civil society and non-governmental organizations, to combat organized crime networks. We must protect press freedoms so that the media and journalists can expose the harms inflicted by organized crime. We are working to deepen our understanding, information sharing and cooperation with foreign partners and multilateral institutions, and through this we will further international norms against tolerating or sponsoring crime in all its forms, including cyberspace.
To achieve these goals, the Strategy set in motion actions across the U.S. government, starting new initiatives and enhancing existing ones, and bringing the different agencies together so that we could have the greatest impact on organized crime.
At the Justice Department, we had already begun to tackle transnational organized crime. We recognized that part of the challenge posed by transnational organized crime lay in the fact that information concerning these groups was scattered across the federal law enforcement community. We therefore began by bringing together the heads of nine federal law enforcement agencies, from the FBI, DEA and ICE to the Postal Inspectors and Department of Labor, to advise the Attorney General in an Organized Crime Council. Their deliberations resulted in the creation of the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center in 2009. This Center pools the resources of the nine agencies, plus federal prosecutors, in a setting where all of the agencies' relevant information can be sifted to produce a complete picture of the workings of a criminal organization. Furthermore, the Center produces this picture in a form that can immediately be put to use by agents investigating the organization. We also created a top target list for organized crime groups common to all nine federal agencies. At a minimal cost, these steps did much to unify the disparate efforts of many agencies and provide a single focus on the greatest perceived transnational organized crime threats.
As part of the Administration's overall Strategy, the Justice Department also took a hard look at the legal tools that we are using to fight organized crime. We found that many of our statutes had not kept up with developments in the criminal world. Our money laundering statutes, groundbreaking when first enacted, had gaps when applied to illicit proceeds in the U.S. that were generated by criminal activity in other countries. Our famous anti-racketeering statute, known as RICO, did not explicitly cover some of the crimes being committed by transnational organized crime groups – like foreign bribery or certain types of computer fraud – and recent court decisions made it unclear whether RICO could even be used to prosecute an organized crime group if most of their activities were transnational in nature. To remedy these and other gaps the Department prepared a series of legislative proposals that were announced at the same time as the Strategy and that are now beginning to work their way through Congress.
The Strategy recognized that agencies outside the category of law enforcement had a critical role to play in the fight against transnational organized crime. Most importantly, perhaps, the Strategy was accompanied by an Executive Order, signed by the President, which directed the Treasury Department to establish a sanctions program to block the property of and prohibit transactions with significant criminal networks that threaten national security, foreign policy, or economic interests. This power had previously been restricted to terrorists and narcotics kingpins, but was now extended to other transnational organized crime groups. By shutting designated individuals and their companies out of the U.S. financial system, these sanctions programs have the power to affect criminals operating around the world. Just last week the Treasury Department announced the first individual sanctions under this order, naming seven members and associates of the Brothers' Circle Eurasian organized crime group and two members of the Japanese Yakuza criminal organizations, and prohibiting U.S. individuals and companies from doing business with them. The Justice Department and the Treasury Department are working closely with each other to further develop this program.
The Strategy also took direct aim at those criminals who try to portray themselves as legitimate businessmen and seek to gain respectability by traveling to and conducting business in the United States. A Presidential Proclamation under the Immigration and Naturalization Act gave the State Department the power to deny U.S. entry to transnational criminal aliens and others who have been targeted for financial sanctions. The State Department was also directed to establish a new rewards program, expanding upon the success of the narcotics rewards program, to obtain information that leads to the arrest and conviction of leaders of transnational criminal organizations that pose the greatest threats to national security.
To tie these efforts together, the Strategy also directed the establishment of an interagency working group to identify those transnational organized crime threats that present a sufficiently high national security risk and coordinate the work of the whole spectrum of U.S. agencies in acting against that threat.
Woven throughout the Strategy is the recognition that transnational organized crime is a threat to law abiding citizens of all nations, and that nations must work together if it is to be defeated. We understand that nations are affected by transnational organized crime in different ways, and that different nations have different capabilities to fight these groups. But we must come together and combine those capabilities if we hope to ultimately prevail against this growing menace.
We welcome today's Hemispheric Meeting sponsored by our Mexican hosts and the OAS as a sign that our concerns are shared by our partners in the Americas. Our work at this conference is critically important, for it is here over the next two days that we can reach a common understanding of the problem of transnational organized crime, and begin to craft a united response. Looking out among you, I am confident that we will succeed.
Thank you, again, for the opportunity to speak with you this morning. It is a positive step that we are here together, forging a path forward to combat this evolving global threat.
From the FBI
Robert S. Mueller, III, Director
of Federal Bureau of Investigation
Speaks at RSA Cyber Security Conference
San Francisco, CA
-- March 01, 2012
* Remarks as prepared for delivery
Good afternoon. I am indeed honored to be here, and gratified to be back in San Francisco.
A few weeks ago, there was a story in The New York Times about a woman who was taking a break from work. She was watching YouTube videos on her iPhone when a man walked up, pointed a gun at her, grabbed the phone, and ran.
A New York City police officer responded to the call and told her not to worry, that he would find her phone. He grabbed his own phone, opened the “Find My iPhone” app, and typed in the victim's Apple ID. In seconds, a phone icon popped up, showing that the subject was near 8th Avenue and 51st Street. The officer and his partner headed that way.
As they pulled up, the officer pushed a button on his phone, and they began to hear a pinging noise some 20 feet away. The officer hit “Play” once more, and they followed the pinging to its source, which turned out to be in the man's sock. The Times reporter pointed out that had the subject been tech savvy, he might have known how to disable the iCloud setting and stop the trace.
If only every case could be solved so easily, and in less than 30 minutes.
Technology has become pervasive as a target. It has also been used as a means of attack. But this story illustrates our use of technology as an investigative tool. It also illustrates the power of innovative thinking and fast action—the very tools we need to stop those who have hijacked cyber space for their own ends.
Technology is moving so rapidly that from a security perspective, it is difficult to keep up. Consider the evolution of cyber crime in just the past decade.
When I was the U.S. Attorney here in 2000, we worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to track down a Canadian teenager known as “Mafiaboy.” He was responsible for the largest denial of service attack at that time. He targeted eBay, Yahoo, E*Trade, Global Crossing, and CNN, just to see if he could shut them down…and he could and did.
When he was finally caught, the 15-year-old was reportedly at a sleepover at a friend's house, eating junk food and watching “Goodfellas.” He said at the time that he did not understand the consequences of his actions. That now seems like the good old days.
Traditional crime—from mortgage and health care fraud to child exploitation—has migrated online. Terrorists use the Internet as a recruiting tool, a moneymaker, a training ground, and a virtual town square, all in one.
At the same time, we confront hacktivists, organized criminal syndicates, hostile foreign nations that seek our state secrets and our trade secrets, and mercenaries willing to hack for the right price. And we have seen firsthand what happens when countries launch cyber attacks against other nations as a means of exerting power and control.
Today we will discuss what we in the FBI view as the most dangerous cyber threats, what we are doing to confront these threats, and why it is imperative that we work together to protect our intellectual property, our infrastructure, and our economy.
Let me begin with cyber threats to our national security.
Terrorists are increasingly cyber savvy. Much like every other multi-national organization, they are using the Internet to grow their business and to connect with like-minded individuals. And they are not hiding in the shadows of cyber space.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has produced a full-color, English-language online magazine. They are not only sharing ideas, they are soliciting information and inviting recruits to join al Qaeda.
Al Shabaab—the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia—has its own Twitter account. Al Shabaab uses it to taunt its enemies—in English—and to encourage terrorist activity.
Extremists are not merely making use of the Internet for propaganda and recruitment. They are also using cyber space to conduct operations.
The individuals who planned the attempted Times Square bombing in May 2010 used public web cameras for reconnaissance. They used file-sharing sites to share sensitive operational details. They deployed remote conferencing software to communicate. They used a proxy server to avoid being tracked by an IP address. And they claimed responsibility for the attempted attack—on YouTube.
To date, terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyber attack. But we cannot underestimate their intent. In one hacker recruiting video, a terrorist proclaims that cyber warfare will be the warfare of the future.
Terrorist use of the Internet is not our only national security concern. As we know, state-sponsored computer hacking and economic espionage pose significant challenges.
Just as traditional crime has migrated online, so, too, has espionage. Hostile foreign nations seek our intellectual property and our trade secrets for military and competitive advantage.
State-sponsored hackers are patient and calculating. They have the time, the money, and the resources to burrow in, and to wait. They may come and go, conducting reconnaissance and exfiltrating bits of seemingly innocuous information—information that in the aggregate may be of high value.
You may discover one breach, only to find that the real damage has been done at a much higher level.
Unlike state-sponsored intruders, hackers for profit do not seek information for political power—they seek information for sale to the highest bidder. These once-isolated hackers have joined forces to create criminal syndicates. Organized crime in cyber space offers a higher profit with a lower probability of being identified and prosecuted.
Unlike traditional crime families, these hackers may never meet, but they possess specialized skills in high demand.
They exploit routine vulnerabilities. They move in quickly, make their money, and disappear. No company is immune, from the Fortune 500 corporation to the neighborhood “mom and pop” business.
We are also worried about trusted insiders who may be lured into selling secrets for monetary gain. Perimeter defense may not matter if the enemy is inside the gates.
The end result of these developments is that we are losing data. We are losing money. We are losing ideas and we are losing innovation. And as citizens, we are increasingly vulnerable to losing our information. Together we must find a way to stop the bleeding.
We in the FBI have built up a substantial expertise to address these threats, both here at home and abroad.
We have cyber squads in each of our 56 field offices, with more than 1,000 specially trained agents, analysts, and forensic specialists. Given the FBI's dual role in law enforcement and national security, we are uniquely positioned to collect the intelligence we need to take down criminal networks, prosecute those responsible, and protect our national security.
But we cannot confront cyber crime on our own.
Borders and boundaries pose no obstacles for hackers. But they continue to pose obstacles for global law enforcement, with conflicting laws, different priorities, and diverse criminal justice systems. With each passing day, the need for a collective approach—for true collaboration and timely information sharing—becomes more pressing.
The FBI has 63 legal attaché offices that cover the globe. Together with our international counterparts, we are sharing information and coordinating investigations. We have special agents embedded with police departments in Romania, Estonia, Ukraine, and the Netherlands, working to identify emerging trends and key players.
Here at home, the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force brings together 18 law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies to stop current and predict future attacks. With our partners at DHS, CIA, NSA, and the Secret Service, we are targeting cyber threats facing our nation. The task force operates through Threat Focus Cells—specialized groups of agents, officers, and analysts that are focused on particular threats, such as botnets.
Together we are making progress.
Last April, with our private sector and law enforcement partners, the FBI dismantled the Coreflood botnet. This botnet infected an estimated two million computers with malware that enabled hackers to seize control of zombie computers to steal personal and financial information.
With court approval, the FBI seized domain names and re-routed the botnet to FBI-controlled servers. The servers directed the zombie computers to stop the Coreflood software, preventing potential harm to hundreds of thousands of users.
In another case, just a few months ago, we worked with NASA's Inspector General and our partners in Estonia, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands to shut down a criminal network operated by an Estonian company by the name of Rove Digital.
The investigation, called Operation Ghost Click, targeted a ring of criminals who manipulated Internet “click” advertising. They re-directed users to their own advertisements and generated more than $14 million in illegal fees. This “click” scheme impacted more than 100 countries and infected four million computers, half-a-million of which were here in the United States.
We seized and disabled computers, froze the defendants' bank accounts, and replaced rogue servers with legitimate ones to minimize service disruptions. With our Estonian partners, we arrested and charged six Estonian nationals for their participation in the scheme.
And again, we must continue to push forward together.
Terrorism remains the FBI's top priority. But in the not too distant future, we anticipate that the cyber threat will pose the number one threat to our country.
We need to take lessons learned from fighting terrorism and apply them to cyber crime. We will ensure that all of our special agents have the fundamental skills to operate in this cyber environment. Those agents specializing in cyber matters will have the greatest possible skill set.
We are creating a structure whereby a cyber agent in San Francisco can work in a virtual environment with an agent in Texas, an analyst in Virginia, and a forensic specialist in New York to solve a computer intrusion that emanated from Eastern Europe.
At the same time, we must rely on the traditional capabilities of the Bureau: sources and wires. We must cultivate the sources necessary to infiltrate criminal online networks, to collect the intelligence to prevent the next attack, and to topple the network from the inside. We must ensure that our ability to intercept communications—pursuant to court order—is not eroded by advances in technology. These include wireless technology and peer-to-peer networks, as well as social media.
We will also continue to enhance our collective ability to fight cyber crime.
Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, we increased the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces. Today, we have more than 100 such task forces—with agents, state and local law enforcement officers, and military personnel—working together to prevent terrorism.
We are developing a similar model to fight cyber crime—to bolster our capabilities and to build those of state and local law enforcement as well.
Along these same lines, 12 years ago we joined forces to address both the growing volume and complexity of digital evidence. Together with our state and local partners, we created the first Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in San Diego. Today, we have 16 such labs across the country, where we collaborate on cases ranging from child exploitation to public corruption. Together we are using technology to identify and prosecute criminals and terrorists.
Working with our partners at DHS and the National Cyber-Forensics Training Alliance, we are using intelligence to create an operational picture of the cyber threat—to identify patterns and players, to link cases and criminals.
Real-time information-sharing is essential. Much information can and should be shared with the private sector. And in turn, those of you in the private sector must have the means and the motivation to work with us.
We in the Bureau are pushing for legislation to provide for national data breach reporting. This would require companies to report significant cyber breaches to law enforcement and to consumers. Forty-seven states already require the reporting of data breaches, but they do so in different ways and to different degrees.
We must continue to break down walls and to share information, in the same way we did in the wake of the September 11th attacks. This includes the walls that sometimes exist between law enforcement and the private sector.
You here today are often the first to see new threats coming down the road. You know what data is critically important, and what could be at risk.
And while you are fierce competitors in the marketplace, you routinely collaborate behind the scenes. For example, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Bank of America, along with several other companies, have joined forces to design a system to authenticate legitimate e-mails and weed out fake messages.
Such collaboration is commonplace now. But 12 years ago in the “Mafiaboy” case, several of the affected companies shared their experiences and worked together—for the first time—to present a united front against that denial of service attack.
Public-private partnerships are equally important.
Through the FBI's InfraGard program, individuals in law enforcement, government, the private sector, and academia meet to talk about how to protect our critical infrastructure. Over the past 15 years, InfraGard has grown from a single chapter in the Cleveland FBI Field Office to more than 85 chapters across the country, with more than 47,000 members.
Recently, after attending a local InfraGard meeting, one member recognized a phishing scam and notified the FBI. We identified 100 U.S. banks that had been victimized by unauthorized ATM withdrawals in Romania. Eighteen Romanian citizens were charged and eight individuals were extradited to the United States. Three have pled guilty, with one sentenced to more than four years in prison.
We in the FBI understand that you may be reluctant to report security breaches. You may believe that notifying the authorities will harm your competitive position. You may fear that news of a breach will erode shareholder confidence. Or you may think that the information flows just one way—and that is to us.
We do not want you to feel victimized a second time by an investigation. We will minimize the disruption to your business, and we will safeguard your privacy. Where necessary, we will seek protective orders to preserve trade secrets and business confidentiality. And we will share with you what we can, as quickly as we can, about the means and the methods of attack.
But maintaining a code of silence will not serve us in the long run. For it is no longer a question of “if,” but “when” and “how often.”
I am convinced that there are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be. And even they are converging into one category: companies that have been hacked and will be hacked again.
Given that scenario, we must limit the data that can be gleaned from any compromise. We must segregate mission-centric data from routine information. And we must incorporate layers of protection and layers of access to critical information.
We may need to look at alternative architectures that are more secure...that allow critical infrastructure owners and operators to better spot threat actors and to provide information to law enforcement to track and to catch them.
Attribution is critical to deter future attacks. We cannot just minimize vulnerabilities and deal with the consequences. Collectively, we can improve cyber security and lower costs—with systems designed to catch threat actors rather than to withstand them.
Several months ago, I read William Powers' book, “Hamlet's BlackBerry,” about the impact of technology on civilization. In one chapter, he wrote about the Roman philosopher Seneca In the days of the Roman Empire, connectivity was on the rise—new roads, new ways of communicating, and a new postal system to handle the influx of written documents. Postal deliveries were the high point of the day. People coming from every direction would converge at the port to meet the delivery boats arriving from Egypt.
As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Today we have the so-called “BlackBerry Jam,” where several individuals—heads down, shoulders slumped, all furiously typing, talking, reading, or browsing at once—come to a head on a crowded corner. We are all guilty of this conduct.
All those years ago, Seneca argued that the more connected society becomes, the greater the chance that the individual will become a slave to that connectivity. Today, one could argue that the more connected we become, the greater the risk to all of us.
We cannot turn back the clock. We cannot undo the impact of technology. Nor would we want to.
But we must continue to build our collective capabilities to fight the cyber threat…we must share information…we must work together to safeguard our property, our privacy, our ideas, and our innovation.
We must use our connectivity to stop those who seek to do us harm.
Thank you and God bless.