Investigators Confronted by New Threats

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

As the sophistication and breadth of online attacks have increased, so have partnerships between law enforcement agencies and private-sector entities fighting cyber-crime.

One of those is the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance, whose headquarters sits along the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. It is an investigative center with 18 agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service. The alliance also receives data and assistance from more than 300 private companies and other anti-fraud groups.

Investigators, mostly students and researchers from the nearby campus of Carnegie Mellon University, work to counter malicious computer programs.

"We're seeing organized, economic crime on the Internet that we never dreamed of just a few years ago," said Dan Larkin, an FBI agent who heads the alliance. "The idea is to approach all of this with people who have different skill sets, because these fraud groups really have branched out."

The alliance sees such things as pharmaceutical fraud, extortion and schemes to steal data from bank customers as they log in to their accounts, Larkin said. "We need intelligence analysts, chemists, as well as investigators who understand how these guys can manipulate the stock market."

-- Brian Krebs

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