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Report Critical of FBI Cybercrime-Fighting Ability 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-fought-the-law-and-I-won dept.
coondoggie writes "Despite a push to bulk up its security expertise, the FBI in some case lacks the skills to properly investigate national security intrusions. That was one of the major conclusions found in the US Department of Justice inspector general audit of the FBI's ability to address national security cyberthreats today. The DOJ looked at 10 of the 56 FBI field offices and interviewed 36 agents. Of those interviewed, 13 'lacked the networking and counterintelligence expertise to investigate national security intrusion cases.'"
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Report Critical of FBI Cybercrime-Fighting Ability

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  • And why would anyone take a job at the FBI if they can work in the private sector?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And why would anyone take a job at the FBI if they can work in the private sector?

      I'm unemployed you insensitive clod!

    • Isn't that like asking why would some highly educated folks join the military as officers when they can work in the private sector?
    • by AJH16 (940784) *

      The FBI actually pays pretty well. Most agents make $80k within 3 years if they do well and the upward limits can get over $130,000. The hours kind of suck (50 hours a week) but the retirement is insanely good.

  • critical? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ysth (1368415) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:00AM (#35960550)
    So 23 had the networking and counterintelligence expertise to investigate national security intrusion cases. Sounds pretty darned good to me.
    • by ls671 (1122017) *

      You are right, this is a higher percentage than I have witnessed in any department of IT jobs I have had and it is probably a higher percentage than it would be in any IT consulting company employees.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        The story doesn't make any sense. Why would anyone survey field offices to check their ability to deal with and analyse computer issues.

        It is a specialised field and you would assume any national policing agency would create a specialist task force and office to deal with those issues.

        No different to the other forensic investigators, using rough and tumble field agents (active physical and high threat activity) is a dual sided waste, it means you can not use the less than physically fit but definitely

    • by Animats (122034) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:45AM (#35960674) Homepage

      The Slashdot story misreports the data, as usual. The actual report says that 36% of the agents who were assigned to national security related cyber investigations self-reported that they did not have the necessary expertise for the job they were doing.

      And those are the national-security related cases, which the FBI considers to be the most important category. It's probably worse at the regular computer-related crime level.

      They're trying. The FBI actually runs agents through "A+" training, and "Linux for Law Enforcement". After 5 years as an FBI agent on the "cyber" side, agents should be able to configure a Linux kernel and have an in-depth knowledge of the Windows registry. Those agents also have to learn all the regular FBI agent skills.

      The report points out that 41% of the FBI's "cyber" force is tied up investigating child pornography, while only 4% work on Internet fraud. That's why they're doing so badly on online crime.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Just because they take the A+ cert course doesn't mean they passed.
        These are usually existing agents that are pressed into cyber duties and no one is going to dump an agent with years of experience because they we we over their head in a area that takes years to master.

        They need to by hiring IT people first and make them into agents. Not the other way around.

        • by jc2brown (1997958)
          And they shall be called the Geek Squad.
      • The report points out that 41% of the FBI's "cyber" force is tied up investigating child pornography, while only 4% work on Internet fraud.

        And the other [takes shoes off] 55% are doing what?

      • by LanMan04 (790429)

        Do they get sent to FLETC to do the cyber-training stuff or do they have their own training programs?

        --Took the DEASTP class there 5 or 6 years ago, sooo easy.

      • by lasinge (1009929)
        So this is based on self assessment? Ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect ? [wikimedia.org] It basically says that incompetent people tend to over-rate their own abilities and vice versa (particularly true for North Americans, it's not so pronouced in Europe and even less so in Asia.). This actually gives me hope that at least some of the agents are aware of the immensity of what they are up against. If they rated themselves as being 100% up to the task then I'd truly worry.
      • by Mn3m0nic (234085)
        Also of note is that a vast majority of their actual subject matter experts that the agents actually get help from are actually contractors that are paid very well and know what they are doing. That is why people generally do not join a government agency directly. They go through a contracting company and make a lot more money. A lot of the contractors actually scratch their heads trying to figure out why the government does this. They would join those agencies directly if they paid anywhere close to wh
    • True, the FBI appear to be doing their Cybecrime fighting well [salon.com], keeping the government safe against whistlblowers. They usually get their man [salon.com] too.
  • So... on one side FBI don't have the skills to investigate intrusion, on the other side we should trust them enough to allow remote uninstalling [slashdot.org] the CoreBoot trojan, eh?
  • Funny, investigating external intrusions just feels like something I'd expect the CIA or NSA to be handling instead.

  • by Jyunga (2040832)
    Now that the Chinese have caught up to us in 1s and 0s it's time to move on to the much safer YOLD (Yodeling Over Long Distance) model of data transfer.
  • Having worked with a few Special Agents to break an international paedophile ring a few years ago, I can say from experience, the F.B.I have very few agents well equipped and extremely clued up. I was lucky to get in touch with the right special agents, although I hit a complete brick wall beforehand with agents who's mission in life was "COFEE and donuts" excuse the cofee joke http://www.microsoft.com/industry/government/solutions/cofee/default.aspx [microsoft.com]

    The same is of Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police,

  • No surprise here (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @09:26AM (#35962132)
    A few years ago, someone cracked my wife's VOIP account and was using it to run a phishing-type bank scam. They were less than sophisticated in their methods, and with the help of the admins at the ISP from which the attack was coming, we quickly tracked down the source. The admin agreed to leave things in place long enough for me to contact the FBI. This I did, explaining that the attack was in progress "right now" and we had copious information that would make law enforcement action a no-brainer. Again, I reported an in-progress banking scam to the FBI. What I got from them was a promise that an agent would call me the next day. That's it. She didn't, and the other admin and I did what we could (precious little) to prevent more crime. Maybe the call-taker didn't understand the issue and it's immediacy. That's a problem in and of itself, and rather supports TFA's premise. Whatever the case, the message was loud and clear. Federal law enforcement does not pay attention to "the little people". Maybe it's indifference, or may be it's technical incompetence. It is definitelty fail.
    • by martijnd (148684)

      Basically nothing changed since Clifford Stoll wrote his book The Cuckoo's Egg (book) [wikipedia.org] back in 1989.

      It wasn't the Internet and VOIP scams, but East European spies and 1200 baud modems. The FBI didn't care then either.

    • by samweber (71605)

      And yet, on other topics, Slashdotters are known for ranting about how government workers are overpaid, that government is evil, and libertarianism solves all problems. And here we see the result: when the FBI can't pay enough to hire good people, then it can't do its job well and everyone except the criminals suffers. It is all very well for people to bitch about their taxes, but there are real-world consequences.

      And, to address another poster, who wrote "Most agents make $80k within 3 years if they do w

  • FBI is government, government only gets money if there is a problem to fix. If they reported they were the best in the world, their funding would get cut and they wouldn't be able to sustain. The more critical findings are of the state of something in government, the more money is thrown it's way.

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