FBI Director Says Cyberthreat Will Surpass Threat From Terrorists

February 1, 2012

ABC News on January 31, 2012 released the following:

“Threats from cyber-espionage, computer crime, and attacks on critical infrastructure will surpass terrorism as the number one threat facing the United States, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified today.

Mueller and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, addressing the annual Worldwide Threat hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cited their concerns about cyber-security and noted that China and Russia run robust intrusion operations against key U.S. industries and the government.

“I do not think today it is necessarily [the] number one threat, but it will be tomorrow,” Mueller said. “Counterterrorism — stopping terrorist attacks — with the FBI is the present number one priority. But down the road, the cyberthreat, which cuts across all [FBI] programs, will be the number one threat to the country.”

A report released in November by the National Counterintelligence Executive singled out Russia and China for their aggressive efforts to steal American intellectual property, trade secrets and national security information.

“The cyberthreat is one of the most challenging ones we face,” Clapper said. “Among state actors, we’re particularly concerned about entities within China and Russia conducting intrusions into U.S. computer networks and stealing U.S. data. And the growing role that nonstate actors are playing in cyberspace is a great example of the easy access to potentially disruptive and even lethal technology and know-how by such groups.”

“We foresee a cyber-environment in which emerging technologies are developed and implemented before security responses can be put in place,” Clapper said. U.S. officials estimate that there are 60,000 new malicious computer programs identified each day.

Last week the computer security firm Symantec released a report on a Trojan horse program dubbed “Sykipot,” which researchers say was traced to computer servers in China and was allegedly targeting firms in the defense industry.

“The Sykipot attackers have a long running history of attacks against multiple industries. Based on these insights, the attackers are familiar with the Chinese language and are using computer resources in China. They are clearly a group of attackers who are constantly modifying their creation to utilize new vulnerabilities and to evade security products and we expect that they will continue their attacks in the future,” Symantec noted in a blog posting.

In the past several years there has been a growing list of complex computer breaches that highlight the wide array of threats the officials were testifying about:
• The high-profile intrusions of Google’s Gmail by China in 2009 also targeted as many as 30 other high-tech companies including Yahoo, Adobe, Rackspace and Northrop Grumman. U.S. officials believe China was attempting to gain access to these firms’ networks to obtain intellectual property and source code information.
• China is also believed to be behind hacking into computer systems run by NASDAQ-OMX, the parent company of the NASDAQ stock exchange, and an intrusion last year into computers at the International Monetary Fund.
• Last year RSA, the security division of the EMC Corp., suffered a breach of the firm’s intellectual property, SecureID, which provides encrypted authentication services to defense contractors and the U.S. government, including the FBI. U.S. officials say Chinese entities compromised the RSA SecureID system to try to break into computers used by defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
• In 2007, Russia waged cyber-attacks against computer systems in Estonia and U.S. official have also cited Russia using cyber-capabilities in the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
• Non-state entities such as the computer “hacktivist” group Anonymous have wreaked havoc recently with distributed denial of service attacks against the websites of the Justice Department, Universal Music, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the FBI. Anonymous also has conducted sophisticated intrusions, breaching the computer systems of government contractor HB Gary, a cyber-security firm, in early 2011 when they downloaded more than 50,000 emails from the firm and posted private information about the CEO on his own Twitter account.

In the next month, Congress is expected to take up debate about pending cyber-security legislation that could possibly give the Department of Homeland Security new authorities to protect critical computer networks. Senators today on the Hill questioned the panel about why they have not done more to move forward on the issue.

“I can tell you that we are exceptionally concerned about that threat,” Mueller said, citing the establishment of the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force that brings together the 18 intelligence agencies to work on various cyber threats.

“In the same way we changed to address terrorism, we have to change to address cybercrime.” Mueller said. “And so we have to build up the collective addressing of that threat in the same way that we did so and broke down the walls in the wake of September 11th .””

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

Federal Crimes – Detention Hearing

Federal Mail Fraud Crimes

Federal Crimes – Appeal

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Christopher S. Godfrey, Dennis Fischer, Vernell Burris Jr, and Brian M. Kelly Indicted by a Boston Federal Grand Jury for Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud and Misuse of a Government Seal

August 9, 2011

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on August 9, 2011 released the following:

“Four Florida Men Charged in Boston with Defrauding Homeowners in Home Loan Modification Scam

WASHINGTON – Four Florida men were arrested today on charges that they defrauded homeowners in Massachusetts and elsewhere in connection with a home loan modification scam, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz for the District of Massachusetts and Christy Romero, Acting Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP).

A 20-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Boston, charging Christopher S. Godfrey, 42, of Delray Beach, Fla.; Dennis Fischer, 40, of Highland Beach, Fla.; Vernell Burris Jr, 51, of Boynton Beach, Fla.; and Brian M. Kelly, 34, of Boca Raton, Fla., with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and misuse of a government seal. The defendants were arrested today by SIGTARP agents and will make their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in West Palm Beach, Fla., tomorrow at 10 a.m. EDT.

According to the indictment, Godfrey was the president and Fischer was the vice president and treasurer of a Florida company called Home Owners Protection Economics Inc. (HOPE). Burris was the manager and primary trainer of HOPE telemarketers, while Kelly was one of the principal telemarketers as well as a trainer for other HOPE telemarketers.

The indictment alleges that from January 2009 through May 2011, the defendants made, and instructed their employees to make, a series of misrepresentations to induce financially distressed homeowners looking for a federally-funded home loan modification to pay HOPE a $400-$900 up-front fee in exchange for HOPE’s home loan modifications, modification services and “software licenses.” According to the indictment, these misrepresentations included claims that homeowners were virtually guaranteed, with HOPE’s assistance, to receive a loan modification under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which is part of TARP and is a federally-funded mortgage assistance program. Additional misrepresentations to homeowners included that HOPE was affiliated with the homeowner’s mortgage lender, that the homeowner had been approved for a home loan modification, that homeowners could stop making mortgage payments while they waited for HOPE to arrange their loan modification and that HOPE would refund the customer’s fee if the modification was not successful. HOPE also claimed that it operated as a non-profit organization.

In exchange for these up-front fees, HOPE allegedly sent its customers, including homeowners in Massachusetts, a do-it-yourself application package that was nearly identical to the application the U.S. government provides free of charge. HOPE instructed customers to fill out the application and submit it to their mortgage lender. According to the indictment, the HOPE customers who did use the provided forms to apply on their own for loan modifications had no advantage in the application process, and, in fact, most of their applications were denied. Through these misrepresentations, HOPE was able to persuade thousands of homeowners collectively to pay more than $3 million in fees to HOPE.

Godfrey and Fischer were charged with one count of conspiracy, nine counts of wire fraud, nine counts of mail fraud and one count of misuse of a government seal. Burris and Kelly were charged with one count of conspiracy, nine counts of wire fraud and nine counts of mail fraud. Each count of conspiracy and misuse of a government seal carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. All of the defendants face possible orders of restitution.

An indictment is merely an allegation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

The case was investigated by SIGTARP and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Bookbinder in the Computer Crimes Unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Mona Sedky of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.”

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN List Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

Bookmark and Share