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27 October 2006, 15:11

FBI wants to know more about hacker attacks

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The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has requested companies not to keep quiet about phishing attacks and attacks on company IT systems, but to inform the authorities, so that they can be better informed about criminal activities on the internet. "It is a problem for us that some companies are clearly more worried about bad publicity than they are about the consequences of a successful hacker attack," explained Mark Mershon, acting head of the FBI's New York office, in his opening address at Infosecurity NY.

The FBI receives around 18,000 reports of cyber crime per month. Many are concerned with identity theft, which frequently has its origins in phishing attacks, carried out using the names of prominent businesses. According to Mershon, cyber criminals are particularly fond of using fake aid project websites following natural disasters, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami or hurricane Katrina. To the FBI's chagrin, the so-called Nigeria scam, in which credulous individuals make advance payments for the supposed transfers of millions of dollars, just won't go away.

In order to get a better grip on the problem of identity theft, potential losses from which have been estimated at six million US dollars in the USA alone, the FBI has recently started "Operation Identity Shield". However, the authorities are unable to ratchet up the fight against internet crime due to a shortage of qualified staff. According to Mershon, the FBI is currently desperately seeking new talent with above average internet and general IT skills. Right now, the prospects for hackers with the FBI have rarely been better.


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