Posted by the Office of Public Affairs
Every year, the International Criminal Police Organization, better known as INTERPOL, comes together at its General Assembly to discuss the organization’s priorities and to elect the members of its governing board—the Executive Committee.
This year, at the 81st INTERPOL General Assembly held in Rome, Italy, DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Alan Bersin was elected to serve a three-year term as Vice President for the Americas on the INTERPOL Executive Committee. Mr. Bersin was elected with overwhelming support from the approximately 170 member countries in attendance. This year’s assembly also saw the largest U.S. delegation in history, reflecting the important role INTERPOL plays in international security, and in the security of the United States.
During his keynote address, Mr. Bersin underscored the need to work together on border security to combat transnational crime, and the importance of information-sharing between various law enforcement agencies and with INTERPOL. DHS currently utilizes INTERPOL’s Stolen and Lost Travel Document database every day to verify the travel documents of travelers seeking to enter the United States.
Mr. Bersin will continue to serve in his current role as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s principal advisor on international affairs, and through his new responsibilities, work on advancing DHS’ collaboration with the world’s largest international law enforcement organization and its member countries.
In October, Secretary Napolitano visited the INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon, France, where she signed joint statements with Secretary General Ron Noble to further enhance cooperation between DHS and INTERPOL on border management and human trafficking.
Turkey, pumpkin pie, and football aren’t the only things that are part of many Americans’ Thanksgiving traditions. Deals and bargain prices have also become a part of the holiday season, and more people are going online to find them.
Cyber Monday—the Monday after Thanksgiving—is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, providing a golden opportunity for scammers and spammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. On Cyber Monday, hackers may use tactics like preying on popular keyword searches to lure shoppers to malicious websites, with the goal of collecting financial and personal information.
These simple tips can help protect your personal information and transactions on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season:
- Keep your computer, browser, anti-virus and other critical software up to date.
- Only buy from reputable sites and pay attention to URLs. Malicious websites may look similar to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net). Also look in the address box for the "s" in https:// before any transaction. That “s” tells you that the site is taking extra measures to help secure your information.
- Beware of deals that sound too good to be true. Use caution when opening email attachments and do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages and pay special attention to extremely low prices on hard-to-get items.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, and you may not have the same level of protection when using your debit card.
- Keep a record of your order. Retain all documentation from the order in the event your purchase does not ship or if there are unauthorized charges on your bill.
- Check your statements. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages, and compare them to your bank statements. If there is a discrepancy, report it immediately.
Stop.Think.Connect.™ is a national public awareness effort to guide the nation to a higher level of Internet safety and security by educating and empowering Americans to be more vigilant about practicing safe online habits. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
Posted by the Office of Public Affairs
On Veterans Day, we honor the service and sacrifice of the millions of men and women in the United States Armed Forces. At home and abroad, these dedicated military service members work tirelessly to protect our nation.
The Department of Homeland Security has continued its work to increase the number of veterans in our workforce. Veterans now represent more than a quarter of our personnel, serving as Transportation Security Officers, Border Patrol agents, and throughout our Headquarters. Across the Department, DHS veterans contribute their time, talents and experience to our missions every day, and we thank them for their continued service.
This year, the U.S. Coast Guard was the special honoree of New York City’s 94th Annual Veteran’s Day Parade, and the events of recent weeks offer a shining demonstration of their commitment and dedication. The Coast Guard was among the first agencies to respond to Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms ever to strike our country. From braving the storm’s ferocious winds to rescue crewmembers aboard the HMS Bounty, to assisting the Red Cross in shelters across New York and New Jersey, our colleagues in the U.S. Coast Guard have served honorably and made us proud.
Today, Secretary Napolitano delivered remarks at the Northeastern University Annual Veterans Day Ceremony to pay tribute to our nation’s men and women in uniform, including Northeastern’s alumni and current student veterans.
The service and sacrifice of veterans across the country not only enriches our nation, but through their continued service helps support the important work of this Department. We hope you will join us today in thanking our veterans for all that they have done and continue to do in support of our country.
Posted by Under Secretary for the Science and Technology Directorate Dr. Tara O’Toole
The Internet is a critical and steadily-growing part of local, national and global economies, and has become a key tool in allowing the free flow of information in ways and at volumes that few could have foreseen only a few decades ago. Each of us use the Internet on a daily basis -- checking email, paying bills, shopping, and networking with friends. However, as our dependency on the Internet has increased, so too have the cybersecurity risks.
Efforts to secure cyberspace are perhaps some of the most important and pressing of our time, and were a major topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum meeting in Tianjin, China last month. There, representatives from the government, private sector, and academia discussed the importance of securing cyberspace.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) plays a critical role in supporting the Department’s cybersecurity mission. S&T works with a variety of stakeholders to develop and deploy tools, capabilities, and protocols that protect consumers and industry internet users.
In fact, S&T is one of the leaders in unclassified cybersecurity research and development across the federal government. Just last week, we announced grants to 29 academic and research organizations for research and development of solutions to cyber security challenges. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and collaboration between DHS and the private sector is critical to addressing cybersecurity threats.
Yesterday, I attended the Women in International Security conference, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, to discuss one of the most urgent and important issues facing our nation—cybersecurity. In particular, I spoke about how DHS is building a cyber-workforce comprised of highly qualified, skilled, and innovative employees who reflect the diversity of our nation, and will enable us to meet our mission today, and in the future.
At DHS, we’re working to develop the next generation of leaders in cybersecurity while fostering an environment for talented staff to grow in this field. We are building strong cybersecurity career paths within the Department, and in partnership with other government agencies. We are also creating training and development opportunities to retain our most talented employees and ensure their professional development. In collaboration with the National Security Agency, we are strengthening the nation’s educational infrastructure by supporting Centers of Academic Excellence across the country.
In addition, we are extending the scope of cyber education beyond the federal workplace through the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, involving students from kindergarten through post-graduate school. And we sponsor the U.S. Cyber Challenge, a program that works with academia and the private sector to identify and develop the best and brightest cyber talent to meet our nation’s growing and changing security needs.
We also just launched a new recruitment initiative for exceptional recent college graduates called “The Secretary’s Honors Program.”. Its goal is to recruit, retain, and develop exceptionally talented entry-level people to support the Department’s missions, including cyber. We also have begun implementing recommendations proposed by the Department’s Homeland Security Advisory Council Task Force on CyberSkills, in conjunction with public-private partners, to develop a more agile cyber workforce across the federal government. Their recommendations are aimed at improving the Department’s ability to build a world-class cybersecurity team and allow us to tap into pools of talented Americans like our Veterans, whose operational experience makes them well-suited to cybersecurity work.
Homeland security is a young and growing profession where talented people can truly make an impact in many different ways. To succeed as a Department, and as a nation, we must draw on the skills and talents of the broadest range of Americans – men and women who want to serve the public good and contribute to our mission.
Find out more about a career in cybersecurity here.
Posted by CIS Ombudsman Maria M. Odom
Last week, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (Ombudsman’s Office) hosted its Second Annual Conference at the National Archives. I was pleased to welcome over 250 attendees, including Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas, to discuss improving the delivery of immigration benefits and services through inter-agency coordination. Other guests included representatives from community and faith-based organizations, immigration practitioners, members of the business community and government leaders from USCIS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as well as the Departments of Defense, Justice and State.
At the conference, I invited attendees to discuss their common goal of finding solutions to inter-agency challenges in the delivery of immigration services. I invited a renewed engagement because what we learn from stakeholders and government partners, as well as through individual case-work, informs our work at the Ombudsman’s Office. Throughout the day, panel discussions addressed topics such as the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), L-1 adjudications, Judicial Review of Immigration Decisions, Security in the Adjudications Process, and Government Accountability, among others.
During her keynote remarks, Secretary Napolitano said, “Managing the immigration system requires teamwork and cooperation among DHS agencies like USCIS and ICE and CBP, but also inter-agency partners like the Departments of Justice and State and the Social Security Administration. Equally important is the Ombudsman’s role in helping identify problems to USCIS so they may accomplish their mission with integrity, consistency and fairness.”
On behalf of the Ombudsman's Office, I want to thank the speakers and panelists, as well as the many stakeholders who participated in the conference. Additional information summarizing the dialogue that took place during the conference will be posted online in the coming weeks.
For more information, visit the CIS Ombudsman’s page here.
Posted by Mark Weatherford, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity, National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)
As more and more daily functions rely on digital systems, the importance and necessity of protecting our computers, mobile devices, and networks will only continue to increase. While the vast majority of the nation’s cyber infrastructure resides in private hands, the national security and economic risks associated with these assets are so profound that their protection is of national importance. To minimize the risk of a successful cyber attack, we need everyone, including our industry partners, the general public, and yes, our partners in academia, to do their part.
According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs are expected to grow 17% in the next decade -- nearly double what is projected for non-STEM occupations,. These opportunities are not just promising careers, they are opportunities to help secure our nation against the new generation of cyber threats.
Promoting STEM education is an essential step to developing a skilled cyber workforce. Formal, national cybersecurity education programs, such as the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, work to establish an operational, sustainable, and continually improving cybersecurity education program for all Americans. The National Centers of Academic Excellence have certified more than 125 institutions nationwide that teach students valuable technical skills and promote research in various disciplines of information assurance.
DHS is committed to recruiting, training, and retaining cybersecurity professionals that are vital to the effort to make the Internet a safer and more secure place for everyone. Earlier this month, Secretary Napolitano received eleven recommendations from the Homeland Security Advisory Council Task Force on CyberSkills to improve DHS’ ability to build a world-class cybersecurity team and a strong pipeline of talented new hires for the future.
We are also building models of effective STEM education. One way we do that is through our sponsorship of cyber competitions across the country where participants can practice and hone cybersecurity skills in controlled, real-world environments. Stop.Think.Connect.™ Cyber Career Sessions also help undergraduate and graduate students, young professionals, and adults in job transitions learn about educational and career advancement opportunities available in government, academia, non-profit, and private industry.
And if I can make a pitch: DHS is a great place to come to work to help move this vision forward. We are a new department. It is a place where all of us – including you have the opportunity to make a positive impact for your country. We see these opportunities not just as promising careers, but as opportunities to contribute to something larger – to contribute to public service.
With a workforce trained in the skills crucial to success in the information age, there is no end to what Americans can do if we ACT – Achieve Cybersecurity Together. To learn more about DHS cyber education and training initiatives, click here.
America’s cybersecurity is inextricably linked to our nation’s economic vitality – IT systems are interdependent, interconnected and critical to our daily lives – from communication, travel, and powering our homes, to running our economy, and obtaining government services. Private industry owns and operates the vast majority of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and cyber networks. Therefore, protecting critical infrastructure and cyberspace – including the systems and networks that support the financial services industries – requires a full range of partners.
Yesterday, I met with representatives from the financial services sector at the NASDAQ MarketExchange to discuss how government and the private sector can increase coordination and information sharing to protect cyber networks and information systems through risk assessments, hardening IT architecture, exchanging lessons learned and successes, and reporting cyber incidents to authorities. In addition, government colleagues and I reaffirmed the Department of Homeland Security’s commitment to continually improving cybersecurity education and awareness while improving recruitment, training, and retention of cybersecurity professionals.
For business owners, protecting cyberspace is part of their bottom line. Cyber crime can mean financial loss for businesses both large and small. To address emerging cyber threats, we must acknowledge our shared responsibility to ACT -- Achieve Cybersecurity Together.
National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a great opportunity for businesses – as service or product providers, community members, and employers – to educate and empower their employees and consumers to practice safer online habits. Throughout this awareness initiative and beyond, businesses can take concrete steps to improve online safety:
- Host a Stop.Think.Connect. cybersecurity awareness event at your facility to engage your community in promoting awareness about the dangers Americans face online.
- Establish security practices and policies to protect the sensitive information of your organization and its employees, patrons, and stakeholders.
- Educate employees to the Internet security guidelines and procedures.
- Download and distribute cybersecurity materials in your workplace.
- Use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on all computers.
- Secure Internet connections by using such technologies as firewalls and encrypting information.
- Require employees to use strong passwords and regularly change them.
We all have a role to play in preventing cyber crime and protecting cyberspace as businesses and consumers alike. Find more information on National Cyber Security Awareness Month here, and more information on cybersecurity for your business here.
Posted by US Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan
What would you do if you receive a suspicious email from a friend that only included a link? Would you click on it? The email may be an attempt by an individual or group to solicit personal information or cause harm to our computers. This type of attack is referred to as “phishing.” Cybercriminals may send an email that appears to be from a friend or valid organization. The email may entice us to click a link that may look legitimate but is actually an attempt to collect our personal information or expose us to a website with malicious code.
These types of attacks are one example of the many complex cyber threats we face every time we go online regardless of whether we are at home, at work, or on the go. The spectrum of crime in today’s cyber landscape is limitless: threats, some more serious and sophisticated than others, can have wide-ranging effects on the individual, community, organizational, and national level.
Law enforcement plays an instrumental role in advancing the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity mission to proactively fight Internet-related crime and to empower citizens with resources and tools needed to protect against growing cyber threats. To combat cyber crime, DHS leverages the skills and resources of the U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Coast Guard, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection – working in cooperation with the Department of Justice, especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation – to investigate and prosecute cyber criminals. In fiscal year 2011, the U.S. Secret Service arrested over 1,239 suspects for cyber crime in investigations that prevented over $1.6 billion in fraud loss.
The need for collective action on cybersecurity has never been greater. In recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month this October, we pay special attention to “Achieving Cybersecurity Together.” DHS encourages law enforcement officials to help spread cybersecurity awareness to communities across the country by:
- Joining the Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign through the National Network or Cyber Awareness Coalition. Find out more at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
- Leading or hosting a cybersecurity educational session or activity at a local school, library, or community center.
- Downloading and distributing Stop.Think.Connect. cybersecurity materials, including the Toolkit with resources for all ages and organizations.
- Blogging, tweeting, or posting about safe online behavior.
For more information about staying safe online and getting involved, visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
Today, I joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman to announce a new partnership among the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Amtrak to combat human trafficking. Through this partnership, we are pledging to do more to combat human trafficking by broadening our network of partners to help us identify and rescue victims and help bring perpetrators to justice.
DHS is responsible for investigating human trafficking, arresting traffickers and protecting victims, but we cannot do it alone. Everyone has a role in identifying and combating human trafficking - from Amtrak employees, to police officers, to even passengers on board a train. Transportation workers interact with thousands of travelers every day, so they are in a unique position to observe and report situations that don’t seem right.
These actions can save lives. In just the past few months, investigations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and our partners in law enforcement have led to convictions of several traffickers, including a case in Virginia, where a former leader of the MS-13 street gang plead guilty for his role in a juvenile prostitution ring; and a case in Philadelphia where a man was sentenced to life in prison for smuggling young immigrants into the U.S. and forcing them to work for little or no pay.
In March of this year, President Obama directed his Administration to redouble efforts to eliminate human trafficking. In an address to the Clinton Global Initiative last week, the President reaffirmed America’s commitment to leading the global movement against human trafficking, calling it one of the great human rights causes of our time, and announced a number of new initiatives. The U.S. Government’s efforts augment the work of business, non-profits, educational institutions and foundations to combat trafficking.
We welcome partnerships like the one we’re announcing today, that can build a whole-of-nation approach to eliminating this scourge. Amtrak will utilize training and awareness materials developed by the DHS Blue Campaign to educate frontline transportation employees and Amtrak Police Department officers of potential indicators of human trafficking. And DHS and DOT have also committed to training their own employees on how to identify and report potential cases of human trafficking.
What can you do? The DHS Blue Campaign created training and awareness materials to inform people of potential indicators of human trafficking and identify potential victims. I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn the indicators of human trafficking and how to report it to the proper authorities. Together we can help protect innocent victims and prevent this form of modern day slavery.