Good afternoon Chairman Whitehouse, Ranking Member Kyl,
and members of the subcommittee. I’m pleased to appear before you today
to discuss the cyber threats facing our nation and how the FBI and our
partners are working together to protect United States government and
private sector networks.
Countering efforts by foreign countries to steal our nation’s
secrets, evaluating the capabilities of terrorists in a digital age,
and fighting cyber crime are the FBI’s highest priorities. It is
difficult to overstate the potential impact these threats pose to our
economy, our national security, and the critical infrastructure upon
which our country relies.
The Cybersecurity Threat
As the subcommittee is aware, the number and sophistication of cyber
attacks has increased dramatically over the past five years and is
expected to continue to grow.
The threat has reached the point that given enough time, motivation,
and funding, a determined adversary will likely be able to penetrate
any system that is accessible directly from the Internet.
It is difficult to state with confidence that our critical
infrastructure—the backbone of our country’s economic prosperity,
national security, and public health—will remain unscathed and always
be available when needed.
The recent security breach by unauthorized intruders into the parent
company of NASDAQ is an example of the kind of breaches directed
against important financial infrastructure and illustrates the
difficulty of determining clear attribution. As we would in response to
any such breach, the FBI is working to identify the scope of the
intrusion and assist the victim in the remediation process.
The FBI has identified the most significant cyber threats to our
nation as those with high intent and high capability to inflict damage
or death in the U.S., to illicitly acquire assets, or to illegally
obtain sensitive or classified U.S. military, intelligence, or economic
As both an intelligence and law enforcement agency, the FBI can
address every facet of a cyber case—from collecting intelligence on the
subjects in order to learn more about their networks to dismantling
those networks and prosecuting the individual perpetrators. The ability
to take action on the information we collect is critical because what
may begin as a criminal investigation may become a national security
In addition, the FBI’s presence in legal attachés in 61 cities
around the world assists in the critical exchange of case-related
information and the situational awareness of current threats, helping
to combat the global scale and scope of cyber breaches. The FBI is also
changing to adapt to the ever-evolving technology and schemes used by
cyber criminals. Intelligence now drives operations in the FBI. The
Bureau is working in new ways with long-standing and new partners to
address the cybersecurity threat.
Cyber Threats Against the Private Sector
Cyber criminal threats to the U.S. result in significant economic
losses. But the threat against financial institutions is only part of
the problem. Also of serious concern are threats to critical
infrastructure, the theft of intellectual property, and supply chain
Cyber Threats to U.S. Critical Infrastructure
U.S. critical infrastructure faces a growing cyber threat due to
advancements in the availability and sophistication of malicious
software tools and the fact that new technologies raise new security
issues that cannot always be addressed prior to adoption. The
increasing automation of our critical infrastructures provides more
cyber access points for adversaries to exploit.
New “smart grid” and “smart home” products, designed to provide
remote communication and control of devices in our homes, businesses,
and critical infrastructures, must be developed and implemented in ways
that will also provide protection from unauthorized use. Otherwise,
each new device could become a doorway into our systems for adversaries
to use for their own purposes.
Industrial control systems, which operate the physical processes of
the nation’s pipelines, railroads, and other critical infrastructures,
are at elevated risk of cyber exploitation.
The FBI is concerned about the proliferation of malicious techniques
that could degrade, disrupt, or destroy critical infrastructure.
Although likely only advanced threat actors are currently capable of
employing these techniques, as we have seen with other malicious
software tools, these capabilities will eventually be within reach of
all threat actors.
Intellectual Property Theft and Supply Chain Risks
Intellectual property rights violations, including theft of trade
secrets, digital piracy, and trafficking counterfeit goods, also
represent high cyber criminal threats, resulting in losses of billions
of dollars in profits annually. These threats also pose significant
risk to U.S. public health and safety via counterfeit pharmaceuticals,
electrical components, aircraft parts, and automobile parts.
Cyber crime that manipulates the supply chain could pose a threat to
national security interests and U.S. consumers. Poorly manufactured
computer chips or chips that have been salvaged and repackaged infringe
on intellectual property rights and could fail at critical times,
posing a serious health and safety threat to U.S. citizens. Malware
could be embedded on the chips to exfiltrate information from computers
and result in the theft of personally identifiable information (PII)
that could then be used in future cyber crimes. As the quality of
counterfeit goods increases, U.S. consumers may be challenged to tell
the difference between authentic and fraudulent goods.
Operation Cisco Raider is a joint initiative between the U.S. and
Canada that targets the illegal distribution of counterfeit network
hardware manufactured by private entities in China. The use of
counterfeit network components can lead to exploitation of cyber
infrastructure vulnerabilities and even network failure. Since 2006,
Operation Cisco Raider has seized over 3,500 network components
amounting to $3.5 million of Cisco retail products. Ten individuals
have been convicted as a result of the joint initiative.
The Booming Business of Botnets
Botnets are networks of compromised computers controlled remotely by
an attacker. Criminals use botnets to facilitate online schemes that
steal funds or data, to anonymize online activities, and to deny access
by others to online resources. The botnets run by criminals could be
used by cyber terrorists or nation states to steal sensitive data,
raise funds, limit attribution of cyber attacks, or disrupt access to
critical national infrastructure. Today’s botnets are often modular and
can add or change functionality using internal update mechanisms.
Today’s cyber criminals are business savvy. These criminals are
building businesses based on the development, management, and sale of
botnets. These criminal groups have programmers who write the malicious
software, salespeople who sell the code or lease out botnet services,
and, in some instances, dedicated support personnel. These criminals
are working to make botnets easier to deploy and more difficult to
Successful botnet development and operations use techniques similar
to legitimate businesses, including the involvement of personnel with
various specialties, feature-based pricing structures, modularization,
and software copy protection. The development and sale of kit-based
botnets has made it easier for criminals with limited technical
expertise to build and maintain effective botnets. Botnet development
and management is approached in a business-like fashion. Some criminals
rent or sell their botnets or operate them as a specialized portion of
an ad hoc criminal organization. At least one botnet kit author
implemented a copy protection scheme, similar to major commercial
software releases, which attempts to limit unauthorized use of the
Botnets that specialize in data exfiltration are able to capture the
contents of encrypted webpages and modify them in real time. When
properly configured, criminals can ask additional questions at login or
modify the data displayed on the screen to conceal ongoing criminal
activity. Criminals purchase the base kits for a few thousand dollars
and can pay for additional features to better target specific
The “Not for Profit” Cyber Criminal
Hacktivist groups such as Anonymous undertake protests and commit
computer crimes as a collective unit. Anonymous does not have a leader
or a controlling party, but instead relies on the collective power of
individual participants. Its members utilize the Internet to
communicate, advertise, and coordinate their actions. Anonymous has
initiated multiple criminal Distributed Denial of Service attacks
against the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion
Picture Association of America, the Church of Scientology, and various
businesses in support of WikiLeaks.
Just last month, Anonymous hacked into the website of a U.S.
security firm with U.S. government contracts and stole approximately
72,000 e-mails from the company and posted them online. This attack was
in response to the claim that a researcher at the company had
identified key members of Anonymous.
Financial Estimates of Damages
Cyber criminals are forming private, trusted, and organized groups
to conduct cyber crime. The adoption of specialized skill sets and
professionalized business practices by these criminals is steadily
increasing the complexity of cyber crime by providing actors of all
technical abilities with the necessary tools and resources to conduct
cyber crime. Not only are criminals advancing their abilities to attack
a system remotely, but they are becoming adept at tricking victims
into compromising their own systems. Once a system is compromised,
cyber criminals will use their accesses to obtain PII, which includes
online banking/brokerage account credentials and credit card numbers of
individuals and businesses that can be used for financial gain. As
cyber crime groups increasingly recruit experienced actors and pool
resources and knowledge, they advance their ability to be successful in
crimes against more profitable targets and will learn the skills
necessary to evade the security industry and law enforcement.
The potential economic consequences are severe. The sting of a cyber
crime is not felt equally across the board. A small company may not be
able to survive even one significant cyber attack. On the other hand,
companies may not even realize that they have been victimized by cyber
criminals until weeks, maybe even months later. Victim companies range
in size and industry.
Often, businesses are unable to recoup their losses, and it may be
impossible to estimate their damage. Many companies prefer not to
disclose that their systems have been compromised, so they absorb the
loss, making it impossible to accurately calculate damages.
As a result of the inability to define and calculate losses, the
best that the government and private sector can offer are estimates.
Over the past five years, estimates of the costs of cyber crime to the
U.S. economy have ranged from millions to hundreds of billions. A 2010
study conducted by the Ponemon Institute estimated that the median
annual cost of cyber crime to an individual victim organization ranges
from $1 million to $52 million.
According to a 2011 publication released by Javelin Strategy and
Research, the annual cost of identity theft is $37 billion. This
includes all forms of identity theft, not just cyber means. The
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), which aggregates self-reported
complaints of cyber crime, reports that in 2010, identity theft schemes
made up 9.8 percent of all cyber crime.
Addressing the Threat
Although our cyber adversaries’ capabilities are at an all-time
high, combating this challenge is a top priority of the FBI and the
entire government. Thanks to Congress and the administration, we are
devoting significant resources to this threat. Our partnerships within
industry, academia, and across all of government have also led to a
dramatic improvement in our ability to combat this threat.
The FBI’s statutory authority, expertise, and ability to combine
resources across multiple programs make it uniquely situated to
investigate, collect, and disseminate intelligence about and counter
cyber threats from criminals, nation-states, and terrorists.
The FBI is a substantial component of the Comprehensive National
Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), the interagency strategy to protect
our digital infrastructure as a national security priority. Through the
CNCI, we and our partners collaborate to collect intelligence, gain
visibility on our adversaries, and facilitate dissemination of critical
information to decision makers.
The FBI has cyber squads in each of our 56 field offices, with more
than 1,000 advanced cyber-trained FBI agents, analysts, and forensic
examiners. We have increased the capabilities of our employees by
selectively seeking candidates with technical skills and enhancing our
In addition, as part of the FBI’s overall transformation to an
intelligence-driven organization, the Cyber Division has implemented
Threat Focus Cells, which bring together subject matter experts from
various agencies to collaborate and address specific identified cyber
However, one agency cannot combat the threat alone. Through the
FBI-led National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, we coordinate
our efforts with 20 law enforcement and intelligence community (IC)
entities, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of
Defense, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the National
Security Agency. The FBI also has embedded cyber staff in other IC
agencies through joint duty and detailee assignments.
We have also enhanced our partnership with DHS, forming joint
FBI-DHS teams to conduct voluntary assessments for critical
infrastructure owners and operators who are concerned about the network
security of their industrial control systems. DHS has provided more
than 30 FBI agents and intelligence analysts with specialized training
in these systems.
In addition, because of the frequent foreign nexus to cyber threats,
we work closely with our international law enforcement and
We currently have FBI agents embedded full-time in five foreign
police agencies to assist with cyber investigations: Estonia, the
Netherlands, Romania, Ukraine, and Colombia. These cyber personnel have
identified cyber organized crime groups targeting U.S. interests and
supported other FBI investigations. We have trained foreign law
enforcement officers from more than 40 nations in cyber investigative
techniques over the past two years.
We have engaged our international allies, including Australia, New
Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom, in strategic discussions that
have resulted in increased operational coordination on intrusion
activity and cyber threat investigations.
Government and Private Sector Information Sharing
The FBI has developed strong relationships with private industry and
the public. InfraGard is a premier example of the success of
public-private partnerships. Under this initiative, state, local, and
tribal law enforcement, academia, other government agencies,
communities, and private industry work with us through our field
offices to ward off attacks against critical infrastructure. Over the
past 15 years, we have seen this initiative grow from a single chapter
in the Cleveland Field Office to more than 86 chapters in 56 field
offices with 42,000 members.
The exchange of knowledge, experience, and resources is invaluable
and contributes immeasurably to our homeland security. Notably, DHS has
recognized the value of the program and recently partnered with the
InfraGard program to provide joint training and conferences during this
With outside funding from DHS, the newly formed Joint Critical
Infrastructure Partnership will host five regional conferences this
year along with representation at a number of smaller venues. The focus
of the program is to further expand the information flow to the
private sector by not only reaching out to the current InfraGard
membership but also reaching beyond current members to local critical
infrastructure and key resource owners and operators. The goal is to
raise awareness of risks to the nation’s infrastructure and to better
educate the public about infrastructure security initiatives. This
partnership is a platform which will enhance the risk management
capabilities of local communities by providing security information,
education, training, and other solutions to protect, prevent, and
respond to terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other hazards,
such as the crisis currently facing Japan. Ensuring that a country’s
infrastructure is protected and resilient is key to national security.
Experience has shown that establishing rapport with the members
translates into a greater flow of information within applicable legal
boundaries, and this rapport can only be developed when FBI personnel
have the necessary time and resources to focus on the program. This
conduit for information results in the improved protection of the
infrastructure of the U.S.
In addition to InfraGard, the FBI participates in other activities
with the private sector, like the Financial Services Information
Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC). A good example of this
cooperation is the FBI’s identification of a bank fraud trend in which
U.S. banks were unaware that they were being defrauded by businesses in
another country. As a result of FBI intelligence analysis, a joint
FBI/FS-ISAC document was drafted and sent to the FS-ISAC’s membership,
alerting them to these crimes and providing recommendations on how to
protect themselves from falling victim to the same scheme.
In the last few years, there has been a push to partner FBI
intelligence analysts with private sector experts. This is an
opportunity for the intelligence analysts to learn more about the
industries they are supporting. They then can better identify the needs
of those industries as well as FBI information gaps. Additionally,
they develop points-of-contact within those industries who can evaluate
and assist in timely analysis, and the analysts mature into subject
Other successful cyber partnerships include the IC3 and the National
Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA). Established in 2000,
the IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar
Crime Center that serves as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer
criminal complaints regarding cyber crime. Since it began, the IC3 has
processed more than two million complaints. Complaints are referred to
local, state, federal, and international law enforcement and are also
the basis for intelligence products and public service announcements.
The FBI’s IC3 unit works with the private sector, individually and
through working groups, professional organizations, and InfraGard, to
cultivate relationships, inform industry of threats, identify
intelligence, and develop investigative information to enhance or
initiate investigations by law enforcement.
The NCFTA is a private, non-profit organization composed of
representatives of industry and academia which partners with the FBI.
The NCFTA, in cooperation with the FBI, develops responses to evolving
threats to the nation’s critical infrastructure by participating in
cyber-forensic analysis, tactical response development, technology
vulnerability analysis, and the development of advanced training. The
NCFTA work products can be provided to industry, academia, law
enforcement, and the public as appropriate.
The FBI also partners with the U.S. private sector on the Domestic
Security Alliance Council (DSAC). This strategic collaboration enhances
communications and promotes effective exchanges of information in
order to prevent, detect, and investigate criminal acts, particularly
those affecting interstate commerce, while advancing the ability of the
U.S. private sector to protect its employees, assets, and proprietary
The DSAC is in a unique position to speak on behalf of the private
sector because the DSAC members are the highest ranking security
executives of the member companies, who directly report to the leaders
of their organizations.
Our partnerships and joint initiatives are paying off, especially in
the national security realm. In 2010, the FBI strengthened our efforts
to counter state-sponsored cyber threats, increasing the number of
national security computer intrusion cases by 60 percent.
While we increased our emphasis on national security, we continued
to see successes on the criminal side. In 2010, we arrested a record
202 individuals for criminal intrusions, up from 159 in 2009. We
obtained a record level of financial judgments for such cases of $115
million, compared to $85 million in 2009. Those arrests included five
of the world’s top cyber criminals. Among them were the perpetrators of
the Royal Bank of Scotland WorldPay intrusion. Due to our strong
partnership with the Estonian government on cyber matters, the case
resulted in one of the first hackers extradited from Estonia to the
As the subcommittee knows, we face significant challenges in our
efforts to combat cyber crime. In the current technological
environment, there are numerous threats to private sector networks, and
the current Internet environment can make it extremely difficult to
We are optimistic that by strengthening relationships with our
domestic and international counterparts, the FBI will continue to
succeed in identifying and neutralizing cyber criminals, thereby
protecting U.S. businesses and critical infrastructure from grave harm.
To bolster our efforts, we will continue to share information with
government agencies and private industry consistent with applicable
laws and policies. We will continue to engage in strategy discussions
with other government agencies and the private sector to ensure that
American ingenuity will lead to new solutions and better security. We
will continue to build a skilled workforce to operate in this
We look forward to working with the subcommittee and Congress as a
whole to determine a successful course forward for the nation that
allows us to reap the positive economic and social benefits of the
Internet while minimizing the risk posed by those who would use it for