Computer Crime Research Center


Cyber-Cops Outgunned

Date: June 01, 2004
Source: eWEEK
By: Dennis Fisher

Bob Breeden isn't complaining, don't get him wrong. Special Agent Breeden, who heads the Computer Crime Division of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in Tallahassee, feels fortunate to work in one of the few state police departments running a full-time cyber-crime division. With four other officers under his command and another 10 FDLE employees at his disposal, Breeden oversees a division with an embarrassment of riches compared with its counter parts in most other states.

Still, "there are days I feel like I need 10 more agents and more money," Breeden said. Considering Florida has the second-highest number of Internet-fraud incidents in the country each year and that Breeden's team handles between 400 and 500 cyber-crime cases annually, it's easy to see how resources can be stretched to the limit.

For Part 1 of the series "Tales of Cyber-crime," click here.

Breeden knows that most jurisdictions have it far worse. "The vast majority of local law enforcement hasn't embraced technical investigations," he said.

Since the 1980s, when computer crimes first became a concern for law enforcement, agencies have wrestled with how to deal with the often-confusing, highly technical realm of the cyber-criminal. Early efforts to centralize enforcement within federal agencies were seen as convenient and mostly logical but ultimately have led to jurisdictional squabbles and turf wars.

"It is, in a word, chaotic," said Mark Rasch, a former U.S. Attorney who specialized in prosecuting computer crimes and is now the chief security counsel at Solutionary Inc., in Omaha, Neb. "There's supposedly a memorandum of understanding between the Secret Service and the FBI about who takes what, but it's usually whoever gets the first referral. [Today] you can have agents from the FBI, the Secret Service, and state and local police all working on the same case."

Do cyber-crime laws hurt more than they help? Find out here.

These days, even officers with technical backgrounds and relatively good support are often buried in cyber-crime casework.

"The online-fraud thing is so huge–we get so overwhelmed with it," said Larry Smith, a detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's Cybercrimes Unit. "We could probably put all 20 of us on that alone. We usually have more manpower than the FBI and Secret Service, so we work with them a lot."

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2005-09-01 19:19:46 - Very nice blog. Gergana
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