Obama Vows to Battle International Cybercrime

New Administration Strategy Sees IT as Fostering Cybercrime
Obama Vows to Battle International Cybercrime
President Obama Monday declared a national emergency to battle what he characterizes as the extraordinary threat transnational criminal organizations pose to the nation's security, foreign policy and economy.

As part of the national emergency declaration, the White House issued a strategy to combat transnational organized crime in which cyber plays a crucial component in fostering and combating transnational cybercrime.

"During the past 15 years, technological innovation and globalization have proven to be an overwhelming force for good," Obama said in the introduction to the strategy. "However, transnational criminal organizations have taken advantage of our increasingly interconnected world to expand their illicit enterprises."

The strategy's 56 priorities include enhancing intelligence and information sharing and protecting the nation's financial system and strategic market against transnational organized crime.

Transnational organized crime has traditionally been largely regional in scope, hierarchically structured and had only occasional links to terrorism, the strategy says, adding that's no longer the case. "Today's criminal networks are fluid, striking new alliances with other networks around the world and engaging in a wide range of illicit activities, including cybercrime and providing support for terrorism," the strategy states. "Virtually every transnational criminal organization and its enterprises are connected and enabled by information systems technologies, making cybercrime a substantially more important concern."

The strategy says criminal networks employ cyber technologies to perpetrate sophisticated frauds; create the potential for the transfer of weapons of mass destruction to terrorists; and expand narco-trafficking and human and weapons smuggling networks.

Among the actions the strategy says the administration will take is to enhance domestic and foreign capabilities to combat the increasing involvement of transnational-organized-crime networks in cybercrime and build international capacity to forensically exploit and judicially process digital evidence.

According to the strategy, transnational-organized-crime networks cost consumers billions of dollars annually, threaten sensitive corporate and government computer networks and undermine worldwide confidence in the international financial system. Through cybercrime, transnational criminal organizations pose a significant threat to financial and trust systems - banking, stock markets, e-currency and value and credit card services - on which the world economy depends.

$1 Billion in Fraud Against U.S.

How bad is the situation? The strategy contends online frauds perpetrated by Central European cybercrime networks have defrauded American citizens and businesses of $1 billion in a single year. And, the Secret Service says financial crimes facilitated by anonymous online criminal fora result in billions of dollars in losses to the nation's financial infrastructure.

Pervasive criminal activity in cyberspace imperils citizens' and businesses' faith in digital systems, which are critical to our society and economy, the strategy says.

The strategy sees computers and the Internet playing a role in most transnational crimes, either as the target or the weapon used in the crime. "The use of the Internet, personal computers and mobile devices all create a trail of digital evidence," the strategy states. "Often the proper investigation of this evidence trail requires highly trained personnel. Crimes can occur more quickly, but investigations proceed more slowly due to the critical shortage of investigators with the knowledge and expertise to analyze ever increasing amounts of potential digital evidence."

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity & InfoRiskToday

Chabrow, who oversees ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday, is a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business. He's the former top editor at the award-winning business journal CIO Insight and a long-time editor and writer at InformationWeek.

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