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FBI warns state hackers pose national security risk

01 Mar 2013
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The FBI is stepping up its fight against cyber hackers due to the major risk the recent slew of attacks pose to the US.

FBI director Rober Mueller claimed that industry and law enforcement must work together to combat the increased cyber threat posed by nation state hackers and criminals in a speech on Thursday.

"Network intrusions pose urgent threats to our national security and to our economy," Mueller said.

"If we are to confront these threats successfully, we must adopt a unified approach that promotes partnerships and intelligence sharing-in the same way we responded to terrorism after the 9/11 attacks."

Mueller warned that US's existing initiatives, like the Domestic Security Alliance Council and InfraGard alliance are not strong enough to fully protect industry and the government from cyber attacks.

The Domestic Security Alliance Council is an outreach programme that involves chief security officers from more than 200 companies connected to critical infrastructure sectors.

InfraGard is an alliance between the FBI and industry started in 1996 that currently boasts 55,000 members nationwide.

"As noteworthy as these outreach programmes may be, we must do more. We must build on these initiatives to expand the channels of information sharing and collaboration," Mueller said.

"We need to abandon the belief that better defences alone will be sufficient. Instead of just building better defences, we must build better relationships. If we do these things, and if we bring to these tasks the sense of urgency that this threat demands."

Mueller indicated that the FBI would continue to attempt to track and extradite any criminal or state actor they detected.

"For two decades, corporate cyber security has focused principally on reducing vulnerabilities. These are worthwhile efforts, but they cannot fully eliminate our vulnerabilities," said Mueller.

"We must identify and deter the persons behind those computer keyboards. And once we identify them - be they state actors, organised criminal groups, or 18-year-old hackers - we must devise a response that is effective, not just against that specific attack, but for all similar illegal activity."

In the past the FBI has sought the extradition of several UK citizens over alleged cyber crimes. These have included Gary McKinnon who for hacking into NASA's networks looking for evidence of alien activity.

The FBI director's comments follow the signing of an executive order by US president Barack Obama designed to address the issue of cyber security.

The FBI director's plan mirrors that of the UK's GCHQ, which announced a host of new cyber directives designed to help industry combat cyber threats at the end of 2012.

These included a new cyber emergency response disaster management centre and industry advice service.

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Alastair Stevenson
About

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

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