The Department of Justice is creating a new unit within its Criminal Division that will be the focal point within the department for navigating the legal framework for combating cyber crimes and it will also work with international partners, law enforcement and the private sector as well as Congress as it crafts cyber security legislation, a senior federal attorney said on Thursday.
The Cybersecurity Unit “will provide a central hub for expert advice and legal guidance regarding the criminal electronic surveillance statutes for both U.S. and international law enforcement conducting complex cyber investigations to ensure powerful law enforcement tools are effectively used to bring the perpetrators to justice while also protecting the privacy of every day Americans,” Leslie Caldwell, assistant Attorney General, said at the Cybercrime 2020 Symposium hosted at the Georgetown Law Center.
Caldwell highlighted a number of recent cyber crimes, including a $45 million theft of banks around the world through unlimited ATM withdrawals and the Gameover Zeus scheme that hijacked computers until ransom was paid, that demonstrate an increasing trend of sophisticated cyber attacks. She said that for now “cyber crime will increase in both volume and sophistication.”
The new Cybersecurity Unit, which will be part of the existing Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) that was stood up in 1996 in the Criminal Division, is a response to the growing cyber threats. Even though CCIPS has been battling computer crimes for years, including creating the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Network that brings together the section and federal prosecutors from across the country to worth together against cyber crime, the new unit will provide the “dedicated attention” required to combat cyber crime, she said.
The Cybersecurity Unit will also work with the private sector on “cooperative partnerships” to better share information about cyber threats, Caldwell said. In addition, the new unit will also expand existing efforts by CCIPS to reach out to the public at-large about cyber security issues, particularly to allay concerns around law enforcement surveillance.
“Privacy concerns are not just tacked onto our investigations, they are baked in,” Caldwell said.