Cybercriminals are becoming a threat that rivals terrorist groups like al Qaeda, according to the nation’s top law enforcement official.
“Terrorism does remain the FBI’s top priority, but in the not too-distant-future we anticipate that the cyberthreat will pose the greatest threat to our country,” FBI Director Robert Mueller told a gathering of security professionals on Thursday at RSA’s annual conference in San Francisco.
“Today, terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyberattack, but we cannot underestimate their intent,” he said.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the FBI invested heavily to develop new skill sets and formed more than 100 joint anti-terrorism task forces with other government agencies, military branches and local law enforcement organizations.
It’s now following a similar model to fight cybercriminals. The FBI has a dedicated cybersecurity squad in each of its 56 field offices and has 1,000 dedicated agents and analysts working the Web beat, Mueller said.
They focus on three key threat groups: terrorists, organized crime rings and state-sponsored cyberespionage.