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FBI opens new computer crime lab

Date: July 01, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Robert T DeMarco

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- The FBI opened a new lab Tuesday dedicated to detecting computer-related crimes and training federal, state and local police to catch Internet pedophiles, frauds and thieves. It is the second such lab the FBI has opened in the United States, and it will serve one of 50 computer crime task forces that have been set up around the country to increase cooperation among law enforcement agencies.

The FBI has made computer crimes a top priority, just behind terrorism-related work, because computers are used in such a wide variety of crimes today, said Keith Lourdeau, deputy assistant director of the FBI's cyber crime division in Washington. In Connecticut alone, computers lately have figured in all kinds of cases, from the death of 12-year-old Christina Long at the hands of a man she met online, to the public corruption of former state treasurer Paul Silvester. Computer crimes also are committed across state lines and national borders, Lourdeau said. An e-mail scam ring can just as easily operate out of Cambodia as Connecticut.

"Criminals are very savvy. They're always looking for an advantage. The Internet provides them an anonymity they never had," said Connecticut U.S. Attorney Kevin O'Connor.

The lab was built in the FBI's New Haven headquarters with about $300,000 of federal funds. The FBI will use existing staff to run training seminars and to do forensic tests on computers. The training lab has 27 terminals, with black computers and black high-backed desk chairs, to teach law enforcement agents about computer crimes such as identity theft, fraud, harassment, intellectual property theft and crimes against children. Officers will learn about how to collect and analyze evidence from computers in a uniform way that will best preserve evidence.

The FBI also has a new computer forensics lab, where agents can take apart machines and examine hard drives for ghosts of deleted files. Such files were used last summer to convict a Boston investment firm of corruption charges for its dealings with Silvester. The lab also has an area where police and federal agents can work undercover to investigate and catch pedophiles who are seeking to lure children in Internet chat rooms.

The FBI's lab serves members of the state computer crimes task force, which includes federal agents, state police and prosecutors, and police from Glastonbury, New Britain, Milford, New Haven and Windsor. Other police agencies are invited to join, said Mike Wolf, the FBI agent in charge of Connecticut. "This is a small state. It's not an option, but a necessity, that we work together," Wolf said. The FBI's budget also includes money for computers to be continually upgraded as technology changes.

The first such computer lab was set up in Chicago, and several more are planned around the country, Lourdeau said.

Copyright 2004, The Associated Press and Newsday.com, http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/ny-bc-ct--computercrimelab0629jun29,0,1385747.story?coll=ny-ap-regional-wire

Robert T DeMarco is CEO of IP Group in Herndon VA. IP Group offers software communication tools for use on the Internet. These include: PowerTools, Watch Right, Always on Time and IM Frame. Mr. DeMarco is the author/editor of several Weblogs including the Watch Right Internet Crimes Against Children Weblog and is also a member of the High Tech Crimes Industry Association (HTCIA).

Robert T DeMarco, rtdemarco@aol.com

You can read about Crimes Against Children on the Internet at Watch Right Internet Crimes Against Children Weblog


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