FBI unveils plan to shift cybercrime approach away from arrest-first

The FBI has revealed it is intending to move away from its indictment and arrest-first model to a cost-imposing and incident response model.

According to Cyberscoop, during separate public appearances last week, two FBI officials claimed the bureau was going to change up how it dealt with computer intrusions.

Bryan Vorndran – assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division – said, “The FBI specifically is moving away from an indictment- and arrest-first model into the totality of imposing costs on our adversaries, and we’re making tremendous progress there. There is a right time for indictments and arrests and certainly one of our goals to take players off the field. But at the end of the day, we’re a team member first before we’re prioritizing our own authorities.”

“That decentralised workforce is a huge strength for our government, especially given the FBI statutory authorities for incident response, counterintelligence, domestic intelligence and computer intrusions. You know, we can put a cyber-trained FBI agent on any doorstep in this country within an hour.”

Vorndran remarked that the FBI’s incident response capabilities are one reason why Congress should ensure that incident response legislation that stalled in Congress in 2021 should specify that the FBI gets those reports in real-time from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Meanwhile, Tonya Ugoretz – deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division – mentioned seizures of ransomware payments were key ways the bureau could impose financial costs on cybercriminals.

She said, “The types of ransomware seizures that you saw us undertake with the Department of Justice last year are certainly things we want to replicate … and try to scale,” she said.

“That team acts quickly with financial institutions to help those institutions freeze the funds which then makes it possible in some, but not all, instances to recover those funds for those victims. That occurred to the tune of $400 million in 2020. That only happens when we learn about the incident and learn about the details of it in a very quick time window. It’s just as key, though, for victims to follow any notification to authorities with a willingness to work with the FBI.”

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