NIPC leads cyberspace sleuthing

As a center of technical expertise within the FBI, the National Infrastructure Protection Center is leading the cyberspace aspects of the probe into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, NIPC director Ronald Dick said.

With the Justice Department heading the joint law enforcement, intelligence and military investigation into the attacks — an effort called PENTTBOM — the NIPC is lending its technical and coordination expertise, Dick told a group of House lawmakers Sept. 26. "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 technical expertise to track computer intrusions, is providing that 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. At present, its staff of 43 people representing 15 agencies is working full time on the NIPC's PENTTBOM efforts, Dick said.

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