FBI trains its security team in advanced IT skills

FBI trains its security team in advanced IT skills

Increased funding lets bureau develop a curriculum that includes networking and intrusion detection

By Shruti Date'
GCN Staff

An increasing number of cyberintrusions have challenged the FBI's computer security squad, so the bureau is buttressing its resources by fine-tuning the team's information technology skills.

The FBI began to fight cybercrime in 1992 when it established the national computer security squad. Since then the unit has grown to 207 field agents and eight supervisory positions in the FBI's 56 field offices, special agent Ron Dick said.

The FBI uses internal resources and private-sector venues to train its agents in IT skills, Dick said.

'We've just developed a training curriculum for our field agents, which is composed of five core classes totaling 240 hours of training and seven electives,'' Dick said.

The core curriculum offered at the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) includes basic computer investigations, Unix for investigators, networking, an overview of routers from Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, Calif., and advanced intrusion detection.

Electives include introduction to computer security, information-age technology, networking foundations and computer exploitation techniques. NIPC training is available to other agencies that participate in the center, including the Secret Service, the Defense Department and the Postal Service.

Cybersquad agents also can attend courses given by Learning Tree International of Los Angeles or vendors such as Sytex Inc. of Vienna, Va., which offers classes in conducting investigations of computer intrusions.

'We're a relatively new program, so not all investigators have received all the training thus far, but all the field offices have at least one investigator trained in cybersecurity issues,'' Dick said.

Increased funding has helped the FBI beef up training for agents. In fiscal 1998, NIPC received $13.7 million; the fiscal 1999 figure more than doubled to $30.3 million.

The funding also lets the FBI buy IT products from AT&T Corp., Booz, Allen & Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va., and Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego.

The additional funding indicates the importance Congress and President Clinton give to computer security, Dick said.

Sen. Jon L. Kyl (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information, noted the importance of computer security law enforcement at a recent hearing.

'We will examine a growing public concern, the adequacy of the federal government's response to this threat,'' he said. 'This is the fourth public hearing the subcommittee has held on this in the last two years, and ' it will not be our last.''


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