Info Sharing

Utah hooks into FBI cybercrime data

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The FBI has rolled out a pilot program to allow state law enforcement agencies to search its central Internet-crime databases to get a more complete picture of cybercrime in their regions.

The FBI calls the program a step toward fixing a gap between federal, state and local law enforcement in efforts to wage a more comprehensive battle against Internet-based crime.

Under the pilot program with the Utah Department of Public Safety's State Bureau of Investigation, the FBI is tailoring investigative lead information from its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) for state and local law enforcement users into a more close-fitting package.

Although Utah is the first state to participate in the pilot, Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, said in a late September statement that the agency plans to expand it to other states. It's necessary, he said, because not all Internet fraud schemes rise to the level necessary to prosecute them in federal court.


IC3 2012 Internet Crime Report

Using IC3's complaint database and its analytical capabilities, the FBI said IC3 personnel can create actionable intelligence packages connected to specific geographic regions. The data extracted from Internet crime complaints can highlight trends, identify individuals and criminal enterprises based on commonalities of complaints, link various criminal organizations' different attack methods, and detect multiple layers of criminal activity.

The packages can be kicked up to the FBI's cyber task force agents in the agency's field offices for further action, and out to state and local law enforcement.

Sgt. Jeff Plank at the Utah Department of Public Safety told FCW that the program gives his agency unprecedented access to FBI's Internet crime data, which can help his agency track cybercrime in the state that might originate thousands of miles away.

"We used to refer Internet crime reports to the IC3. The victim would email their basic information, like a description of the crime and any associated IP addresses. It would be sent to the IC3. We never really knew what happened. We now have access to that information," Plank said.

The IC3 has seen a steady increase in the volume of Internet-based crime. In its 2012 Internet Crime Report,  IC3 said it received 289,874 consumer complaints with an adjusted dollar loss of $525,441,110, an 8.3-percent increase over 2011.

The access, said Plank, allows local law enforcement to connect the sometimes widely spaced dots that are hallmarks of Internet-based crime.

Cyber criminals, said Plank, may use a variety of phone numbers or email addresses to contact victims within in a limited geographic region to throw investigators off their trails, but the wider view that the FBI's data allows can reveal patterns.

The Utah Department of Public Safety's Bureau of Investigation funded three full-time officers to work inside the FBI's Salt Lake City field office for the pilot, Plank said. The program requires no additional computer facilities

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer at FCW.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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