NIPC leads cyber sleuthing

NIPC

As a center of technical expertise within the FBI, the National Infrastructure Protection Center is leading the cyber aspects of the investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to NIPC director Ronald Dick.

With the Justice Department heading the joint law enforcement, intelligence and military investigation into the attacks—an effort called PENTTBOM—the NIPC is lending all of its technical and coordination expertise, Dick testified before the House Government Reform Committee's Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee.

"During the past two weeks, the NIPC has provided detailed information used to brief the National Command Authority about how the terrorist cells of Sept. 11 used technology to further their murderous activities," he said.

President Clinton established the NIPC in 1998 to coordinate response to and investigation of cyberattacks and other security incidents across federal, state, local and private-sector groups.

The center's Special Technologies and Applications Unit, which usually provides the technical expertise to track computer intrusions, is serving as the technical assistance for the PENTTBOM team through a newly established Cyber Crisis Action Team.

Earlier this year, the NIPC created its Interagency Coordination Cell, which helps resolve conflicts between the many federal agencies involved in cyber investigations. The group meets monthly or as needed. Now, with a staff of 43 people representing 15 agencies, they are working full time within the NIPC on the center's PENTTBOM efforts, Dick said.

The NIPC is still working to address the weaknesses revealed in a General Accounting Office review released earlier this year, and if Justice addresses the resource gaps identified in that report, the center will be able to improve its support, Dick said.

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