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Law Enforcement Embraces New Technologies to “Fight Fire with Fire”

Posted by U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director Paul Morrissey

While most people associate the U.S. Secret Service as the elite protective agency in the world, a lesser known fact is that we are at the forefront of combating cyber crime. Just recently, in October 2014, agents took Arthur Budovsky, the founder and current leader of Liberty Reserve, into custody from INTERPOL-Madrid. In July 2014, Secret Service agents apprehended Roman Seleznev, one of the most prolific traffickers of credit card data, after being expelled from the Maldives.  In September 2013, Adrian-Tiberiu Oprea and Iulian Dolan, both from Romania, were sentenced in federal court for participating in a multi-million dollar conspiracy to hack U.S.-based merchants’ computer systems.

Cases like these highlight the importance of cross-jurisdictional partnerships in combating transnational cyber crime.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of when the United States first specifically criminalized both unauthorized access to computers and access device fraud and explicitly assigned the Secret Service authority to investigate these crimes. The Secret Service has continuously innovated how it investigates cyber crimes to keep pace with technology and criminal’s efforts to exploit this technology. Fundamental to the approach is the collaboration with all stakeholders in investigating, detecting and preventing cyber crimes to minimize fraud losses and associated damages.

The Secret Service established an international network of Electronic Crimes Task Forces, to investigate sophisticated transnational cyber groups through the collaborative efforts of its private sector, academia and law enforcement partners. Through this model, partners benefit from the resources and expertise provided by the network while focusing on cyber crime issues with substantial economic impact.

Secret Service cyber crime investigations have resulted in the arrest and successful prosecution of cyber criminals involved in the largest known data breaches and ECTF investigations have resulted in the arrest and dismantling of large international criminal organizations as is exemplified in the Liberty Reserve investigation.  This multi-year investigation identified Liberty Reserve as an international online payment processor, used by global cybercriminals to launder and distribute proceeds of financial crimes, hacking/carding networks, drug trafficking, securities fraud and child pornography.  This successful investigation resulted in multiple arrests and the seizure of over $40 million in assets. Two weeks ago, DHS recognized these efforts and awarded Special Agent for the New York Electronic Crimes Task Force Tate Jarrow with the Secretary’s Exceptional Service Award.

As our financial payment system has evolved, so has our investigative mission. Today, our modern financial system depends heavily on information technology for convenience and efficiency. Accordingly, cyber criminals have adapted their methods to exploit our Nation’s financial payment systems to engage in illicit activities and the Secret Service continues to work to innovatively to effectively combat cyber crime that affects the American public.

For more cybersecurity tips, visit the Homeland Security Investigation’s Cyber Crimes Center or Stop.Think.Connect.

 

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