FBI Gets $18 Million to Bolster Cybersecurity Training

Law Creates 42 Infosec Posts, Including 14 Special Agents
FBI Gets $18 Million to Bolster Cybersecurity Training
Legislation aimed at bolstering the FBI's ability to combat cyber intrusions was signed into law by President Obama on Nov. 18.

See Also: A New Strategy for Effective Cyber Security Awareness Campaigns

The law increases spending by $18.6 million above fiscal year 2011 levels to create 42 positions, including 14 special agents, "to further the bureau's investigatory, intelligence gathering and technological capabilities to address malicious cyber intrusions and protect critical infrastructure in the United States from cyberattacks," according to a conference report that resolved differences between Senate and House bills.

"The FBI shall expand training for FBI cyberagents involved in national security intrusions cases. Such training should focus on increasing the number of agents qualified to understand current techniques and tactics used by those engaged in illicit cyber activities, and respond to shortfalls identified by the DOJ OIG," the conference report says, referring to a Justice Department Office of Inspector General report.

That IG audit, issued in April (see Rethinking How FBI Trains Cyber Agents), revealed that 36 percent of FBI field agents assigned to national security-related cyber investigations - and interviewed by inspector general staffers - said they lacked the networking and counterintelligence expertise to investigate such intrusions.

Despite the admission by some FBI agents that they had meager networking and counterintelligence know-how, the bureau has demonstrated the ability to use its knowledge of cybersecurity techniques to move against cybercriminals. About the time the IG issued its audit, the Justice Department and FBI disclosed they disabled an international botnet known as Coreflood that was believed to have been operating for nearly a decade and infected more than 2 million computers worldwide (see FBI, DoJ Act to Block International Botnet). And, earlier this month, American law enforcement officials announced that federal agents and Estonia jointly broke up one of the largest Internet crime schemes that infected more than 4 million computers with malware that redirected users to websites that generated at least $14 million in fraudulent advertising fees (see 6 Nabbed in Global Internet Scam).

The new law also:

  • Authorizes $7 million to help states prevent economic, high-tech and cybercrimes.
  • Expands funding for the Federal Cyber Service's Scholarships for Service by $45 million, $20 million more than originally request.
  • Prohibits the departments of Commerce and Justice as well as NASA and the National Science Foundations from using funds appropriated in the new law for IT acquisitions unless their respective secretary or agency head, consulting with the FBI or other appropriate agencies, has assessed any associated cyber-espionage or sabotage risk.

The new law also directs the FBI to submit to the appropriations committees of both houses an annual national cyber-threat assessment, in classified and unclassified versions.


About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.




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