Justice makes its case for $138 million to battle cybercrimes

Justice makes its case for $138 million to battle cybercrimes

With attacks on the rise, officials tell Congress they need more money to keep up with the bad guys

By Shruti Dat'

GCN Staff

Long before last month's sweeping denial-of-service attacks, the Justice Department had drafted plans to bolster its ability to fight cybercrime.

Its plans, part of the administration's fiscal 2001 budget proposal, became public last month, although the budget preparation began almost a year earlier. So just as large commercial Web sites were under denial-of-service at-
tacks, Justice officials were detailing their cybercrime budget requests for Congress.

Keeping pace

'As criminals grow more sophisticated in their criminal activity, so also must law enforcement grow more sophisticated,' Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.) said last week at a joint hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight.

Attorney General Janet Reno says a collaborative cybercrime plan is needed.

Earlier, at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and State, Attorney General Janet Reno said, 'We simply cannot support the demand for more anti-cybercrime positions at our current funding.' Reno said the recent rash of attacks revealed the technical, resource and legal challenges law enforcement faces in fighting cybercrime.

At the joint hearing last week, deputy attorney general Eric Holder reiterated Reno's statement: 'We face significant resource challenges. We need an adequate number of prosecutors and agents'at the federal, state and local levels'trained with necessary skills and properly equipped to fight cybercrime.'

For fiscal 2001, Justice requested $138 million to battle computer crime, an increase of 28 percent over fiscal 2000. The department plans to create a permanent network of experts who would ferret out and prosecute computer crimes.

With $8.75 million, Justice would expand its National White-Collar Crime Center efforts. The center would invest in distance-learning technologies, act as a clearinghouse for all federal computer crime training and offer computer science services in forensics.

Justice would use $6 million to develop 10 regional computer forensics labs. It would spend another $11.4 million to add 100 members to its computer analysis and response team and to develop the Automated Computer Examination System to scan systems for infectious code. The department would spend another $8 million to fight online child pornography.

Reno has suggested that Justice and Congress collaborate to develop a five-year anti-cybercrime plan because of the growing use of information technology in criminal activities.

In fiscal 1998, the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center opened 547 computer intrusion cases; in fiscal 1999 that jumped to 1,154, NIPC director Michael Vatis said last week.

'We clearly expect these upward trends to continue,' he said. 'To meet this challenge, we must ensure that we have adequate resources.'

The department's 2001 budget request includes $358 million for software and hardware, wiretapping systems, cryptology equipment, DNA collection and R&D.

Justice plans to use $11.36 million to combine the FBI's Drugfire bullet identification system with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Integrated Bullet Identification System. The department would spend another $5 million to integrate the Immigration and Naturalization Service's IDENT system and the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

Seeking to make it easier for officers in different jurisdictions to work together, Justice has earmarked $220 million to promote interoperability of law enforcement computer and communications systems.

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