FBI: Team up with us to fight hackers (Commentary by James A. Dawson) | Arkansas Business News


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Over the past few years, cyberattacks in the United States have increased exponentially. Government entities, businesses and citizens face an alarming number of sophisticated threats every day. As the number and complexity of threats to our businesses and infrastructure continue to evolve, the FBI’s Little Rock Field Office is increasing its efforts to share critical information, provide intelligence on emerging cyber threats, and protect our communities against malicious actors.

Cyber ​​risk is a business risk, and recent examples of the large-scale economic effects caused by cyberattacks abound. While much media attention has focused on ransomware over the past year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) has released an annual report demonstrating that e-compromising programs Business emails (BEC) cost American businesses more than $2 billion last year alone. These substantial losses are absorbed by companies who see them as the cost of doing business in the modern age – but that should never be the case.

Although cyber threats often originate from places elsewhere in the world, victims in Arkansas deserve a quick local response. To achieve this goal, the FBI has focused on developing its cyber workforce. We have numerous cyber-trained agents throughout Arkansas, and each has significant expertise in threat response, counterintelligence, domestic intelligence, and computer intrusion. We can put an FBI special agent trained in cyber training at any door in this state in three hours. No other organization in the world has our reach, our unique tools or our experience in assisting victims. Our discreet and experienced cyber investigators want to assist you and your business.

In addition to the resources we have placed in Arkansas, the FBI has dedicated teams in Washington, DC that provide specialized support to victims of cyber intrusions. Our Cyber ​​Action Team (CAT) is a technical investigation team that deploys quickly nationally and internationally to assist with complex intrusions and cyber incidents. Our Asset Recovery Team (RAT) acts quickly to help victims recover funds that would otherwise be lost to cybercriminals. In 2021, RAT used the Financial Fraud Kill Chain (FFKC) over 1,700 times and managed to freeze over $328 million. This money was then rightfully returned to companies that were victims of cyber fraud.

Current FBI cyber strategy focuses on imposing real risk on adversaries through consequences. We achieve this by utilizing our unique authorities, world-class capabilities, and enduring partnerships with federal and private organizations. An example of the importance of partnerships to our mission occurred last year. Chinese state actors exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange Server software to compromise thousands of US computers and install Web Shells – backdoors that allowed them to enter and exit victim networks at will.

China tried to keep those doors open, and we slammed them. Using information shared with us by a private partner, the FBI executed an innovative court-authorized operation to identify and remove these backdoors from hundreds of vulnerable computers across America. More importantly for the private sector, we only did so after publicly releasing information about the compromises and working with Microsoft to contact server owners directly and allow them time to resolve the issue on their own. In keeping with our respect for corporate privacy, we have surgically removed web shells without exposing the contents of victims’ computers to the FBI.

Many conclusions can be drawn from this example of the FBI’s partnership with private industry, and from the FBI’s perspective, the key conclusions are: if businesses and organizations in Arkansas do not report cyber incidents , we cannot provide the resources to help. We cannot help you recover company assets and data without knowing that you have lost them. We also cannot warn other companies that may fall victim to the same attack in the future. Perhaps more importantly, the sooner we receive a cyber incident report, the sooner we can act.

What can you do today to protect your business or organization from a cyberattack? Take the initiative to become an FBI Little Rock partner before you suffer a cyber intrusion. We can provide world-class capabilities, international reach, and critical insight into ongoing vulnerabilities and cyber-intrusions. If your business is the victim of an attack, we will work closely with you to thoroughly investigate the matter while helping you respond should an incident occur.

We will do our utmost to introduce accountability for cyber adversaries and criminals. We will leverage our connections and authorities to inflict consequences on those who harm our communities. We will be courteous, professional and respectful in helping you mitigate the effects of victimization.

If you are an Arkansas business owner or cyber professional, call the FBI Little Rock at (501) 221-9100 to discuss the resources we can provide.


James A. Dawson is the special agent in charge of the FBI Little Rock.
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