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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

'A Lot of People Just Don't Take the Basic Precautions'

At the end of the Black Hat hacker convention in Las Vegas this month, James Finch, head of the FBI's Cyber Division, sat down for an interview about crime and the Internet. About 4,000 people gathered at the annual convention to hear about research on the latest network and computer or electronic-device security vulnerabilities.

The FBI's Cyber Division is responsible for investigating high-tech crimes, including computer and network intrusions and child pornography cases. Each of the FBI's 56 field offices has a cyber squad, which pulls from a pool of 500 to 600 agents specializing in the area. According to an FBI spokesman, there are currently about 50 FBI-led cybercrime task forces across the country working cases with state and local authorities and with investigators from other law enforcement agencies.

These are excerpts from the interview:

QThere are some people who say the threat from cybercrime -- the financial threat and threat to our economy -- is overhyped. What do you think?

AI don't think it's overhyped. The Internet works the same for everybody, bad guys included. If you take the time to understand the Internet, let me tell you there aren't many things you can't peel back and look behind. Whether that requires decrypting encryption or undermining some of the safeguards we have, there's a way to do it.

A lot of people just don't take the basic precautions, or don't know how to take them. Many people just don't have the level of knowledge needed to safeguard themselves. The bar is raised every day. So how do you as a common user keep up with the necessary safeguards? How do you configure it? Should I let this in or not? Who's going to know unless they have some basic information security knowledge?

QAt the "Meet the Feds" talk at Black Hat, someone raised a question that . . . speaks to the issue of how we tackle cybercrime that originates from other countries. The common perception is that we're not getting terribly good cooperation from similar authorities in Eastern Europe and Russia in particular.  [Mark Godsey]

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