Witnesses testified last week before the House Homeland Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies that information-sharing among law enforcement agencies and regulators is critical to protecting the nation’s infrastructure from the growing threat of cyberattacks.
The subcommittee hearing, held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, was chaired by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Penn.).
Witnesses included Jack Whelan, the district attorney for Pennsylvania’s Delaware County; National Retail Federation (NRF) Vice President of Retail Technology Thomas Litchford; Matthew Rhoades, the director of the cyberspace and security program at the Truman National Security Project & Center for National Policy; and Bryn Mawr Trust Chairman and CEO Ted Peters.
Other witnesses included Richard Quinn, the assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s Philadelphia office, and Ari Baranoff, the assistant special agent in charge at the U.S. Secret Service’s criminal investigative division.
Baranoff said the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies play a crucial role in the detection and prevention of cyberattacks and security breaches.
“One of the most poorly understood facts regarding data breaches is that it is rarely the victim company that first discovers the criminal’s unauthorized access to their network; rather it is law enforcement, financial institutions, or other third parties that identify and notify the likely victim company of the data breach by identifying the common point of origin of the sensitive data being trafficked in cyber crime marketplaces,” Baranoff said, adding, however, that a lack of cooperation among law enforcement often means it takes year to apprehend the most wanted cybercriminals.
Rhoades echoed those concerns, saying the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center relies on participation from other federal agencies.
“[T]hose agencies are not currently required to share information with DHS,” Rhoades said. “If we are going to task DHS with the responsibility for leading the protection of federal civilian agencies, then we must give them the authorities required to be successful.”
Additionally, Rhoades said international governments must be able to cooperate with each other in order to combat the growing threat of cybercrime.
“When an investigation leads to a new jurisdiction, the investigators are suddenly at the mercy of another government,” Rhoades said. “More must be done in the international arena to build the capacity of nations that do not want to be criminal sanctuaries and to discourage others that are complicit in criminal activities originating in their territory.”
The NRF also stressed the importance of information-sharing and collaborative efforts.
“By working together and with government to disseminate and receive cyber threat information, companies can learn where to look for signs of an attack and how to alter their security systems to ‘plug holes’ and block attempted intrusions…” NRF’s Litchford said. “Creating structures where information regarding critical threats—and certainly actual breaches—is shared swiftly can be critical in preventing and minimizing losses from data breaches.”