The emergence of computer technologies and the growing threats created by digital criminals and terrorists have worked to produce a wide range of challenges for law enforcement officials charged with protecting individuals, private businesses, and governments from these threats. In response, political leaders and police administrators have increasingly recognized the need to emphasize new priorities and promote new and innovative organizational strategies designed to counter the advent and continued growth of computer crimes.
Federal Roles and Responses DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
This unit focuses on prosecuting crimes related to encryption, ecommerce, IP, Privacy laws, hacker investigations, and search an seizures of computers. DOJ is also expanding its CHIP (Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property) Unit to assist in investigation. Little of what is done by the DOJ actually involves
investigation; the majority of the money is funneled toward prosecution. Agencies under the DOJ include:
- U.S. Attorney’s offices: Prosecution
- Investigative Agencies: FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE
- Immigration and Naturalization
- US Marshals
- Bureau of Prisons
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
The FBI plays an important role in the investigation of cybercrime including:
to capture criminals responsible for serious computer intrusions and the
spread of malicious code
to stop online sexual predators that produce and share child pornography
- to stop operations targeting US intellectual property
- to dismantle organized crime groups engaged in Internet
The Bureau's Cyber Division works in tandem with the Criminal Investigative Division in the investigation of domestic threats generated by computer crime. The Bureau has also partnered with the National White Collar Crime Center to operate the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The FBI also developed "InfraGard," a joint program with the DOJ designed to facilitate the exchange of information among academic institutions, businesses, and the FBI in the fight to protect critical infrastructures.
THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
The National Security Agency is the nation's cryptologic agency. As such, the NSA provides information system security (INFOSEC) that protects the integrity of computerized systems from foreign and domestic intelligence threats. The NSA
has also become the lead agency responsible for monitoring and protecting all of the federal government's computer networks from acts of cyber-terrorism.
THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
The Federal Trade Commission's primary responsibilities concerning computer crime entails the protection of consumers from fraud, deception and unfair business practices that utilize computer technologies. The creation and rapid
expansion of the Internet and "e-commerce" has forced the agency to adapt consumer protection practices to the increasingly computerized exchange of goods and services.
The FTC is also one of the main groups involved with preventing identity theft at the federal
level; however, the FTC provides assistance to state and local agencies rather than investigate the crimes themselves.
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
The Postal Service's Inspection Service is responsible for protecting the nation's mail system and is one of the oldest Federal Law Enforcement agencies in existence. The Postal Inspectors are involved mostly in cybercrime through
assisting in joint investigations with other federal agencies. The main crimes they are involved in are:
- Identity Theft: (usually involved because of stolen
- Consumer fraud
- Child Exploitation and Pornography
THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
The Department of Energy's role in protecting citizens from computer crimes has expanded with the increasing use of electronic and computerized control systems that largely operate critical energy-related infrastructures, including
nuclear power facilities and natural gas and crude oil reserve facilities. The DOE collaborates with the Computer Incident Advisory Capability (CIAC), an organization designed to prevent and detect attacks on computers involved in operating critical infrastructures nationwide.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
The DHS was established in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks and a clear failure on the part of federal agencies to work together to combat the threat posed by terror groups. President Bush launched an initiative to create a cabinet level
department designed to improve information sharing among federal law enforcement agencies, consolidate over 100 federal offices in these departments, and increase inter-agency cooperation.
The Department of Homeland Security investigates cybercrime activities that have the potential to damage national infrastructure, such as communication systems and is concerned that the nation's power stations could be shut down by hackers.
The National Cyber Security Division (NCSD) of DHS is of significant importance in the fight against computer crime. The NCSD is housed within the Office of Cyber Security and communications and opened in 2003 with the charge of protecting cyber infrastructure. Specifically, the NCSD has a twofold task: to build and maintain an effective national cyberspace response system and to implement a cyber-risk management program to protect critical infrastructure.
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is the largest and primary investigative arm of DHS. The agency is responsible for identifying and investigating weaknesses within the nation's borders, developing intelligence concerning threats, removing foreign nationals, and enforcing over 400 federal
statutes. The agency was formed in 2003 as a part of the Homeland Security Act and is the result of a merger of several federal agencies including the Customs Service, the Federal Protective Service, and Immigration and Naturalization.
Created in 1865, this agency is one of the oldest Federal law enforcement agencies, and one of the lead agencies in cybercrime issues. The Secret Service became a key entity in the fight against computer crime as a result of the massive
reorganization of federal agencies after the 9/11 attacks.
The Secret Service's Financial Crimes Division has three primary responsibilities concerning computer crime.
First, the Division is responsible for the enforcement of financial institution fraud (FIF).
- Second, the Division enforces crimes involving access
- Third, the Division has primary responsibility in
enforcing general frauds involving all
computers of "federal interest." The Secret Service also houses the Electronic Crimes Branch of the Financial Crimes Division.
STATE AND LOCAL ROLES
It's unclear whether cyber-crime is increasing or simply being reported more often — or a combination of the two. But as the number of cyber-crime cases increase, state and local law enforcement agencies are taking an increasingly active role in investigating them.
Officers involved in combating computer crime at the local and state level must be supplied with an increase in resources and technology in order to fight computer crime more effectively. These areas can be broadly grouped into four “critical needs”:
- Updated criminal codes designed to complement current
- Resources for tapping federal expertise and equipment
related to computer crime
The concept of jurisdiction pertains to which agency or court has the authority to administer justice in a particular matter, and to the scope of those agencies' and courts' authority. Why is geographic jurisdiction such a big problem? There are a couple of important reasons:
Laws differ from state to state and nation to nation. An act that's illegal in one locale may not be against the law in another. This complicates things if the perpetrator is in a location where what he/she is doing isn't even against the law - even though it's a clear-cut crime in the location where the victim is.
Law enforcement agencies are only authorized to enforce the law within their jurisdictions. A police officer commissioned in California has no authority to arrest someone in Florida, the FBI doesn't have the authority to arrest someone in Spain and so forth. Extradition (the process by which a state or nation surrenders a suspect to another) is difficult at best, and often impossible. Under international law, a country has no obligation to turn over a criminal to the requesting entity, although some countries have treaties whereby they agree to do so. Even in those cases, it's usually an expensive and long, drawn-out process.
Thus jurisdictional issues frequently slow down or completely block the enforcement of cybercrime laws.
Anonymity and identity
Before jurisdiction even comes into play, it's necessary to discover where - and who - the criminal is before you can think about making an arrest. This is a problem with online crime because there are so many ways to hide one's identity. There are numerous services that will mask a user's IP address by routing traffic through various servers, usually for a fee. This makes it difficult to track down the criminal.
Nature of the evidence
Yet another thing that makes cybercrime more difficult to investigate and prosecute in comparison to most "real world" crimes, is the nature of the evidence. The problem with digital evidence is that, after all, it is actually just a collection of ones and zeros represented by magnetization, light pulses, radio signals or other means. This type of information is fragile and can be easily lost or changed THE PROBLEM OF JURISDICTION
The need for international cooperation in computer crime cases is clear, because evidence of a computer crime can be stored on a computer located anywhere in the world, countries that will not cooperate with legitimate criminal investigation from other nations can create safe havens for crime. However, how likely is it that every country in the world will cooperate effectively with the rest of the world's computer crime investigations? Even if all countries agree to cooperate in principle, problems will remain. For example, conduct that is criminal in one country can be protected in another.
In general, a government's jurisdiction extends to those individuals who reside within its borders or to transactions or events which occur within those borders. The Internet, like space, doesn't have any borders.
Sometimes, it's better to prosecute overseas, sometimes locally, sometimes federally, and this leads to a lot of disparities and inequities in the justice system. This discussion relates to how far U.S. law enforcement should go to catch non-citizens who break into American systems?
- When a crime happens on the Internet, where, exactly, does it take place? Is it at the terminal of the victim, the criminal or where the server for one or the other is located?
- Should countries have a right to conduct trans-border searches of computers located in other countries to carry out their own domestic laws?
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