FBI cybercrime chief heading to China

FBI and Chinese law enforcement officials will meet in November to discuss cybercrime, the first such meeting between the two countries, according to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Mueller mentioned the improved potential for cooperation with China at a question-and-answer session for reporters at FBI headquarters.

Louis Reigel, assistant director of the FBI’s Cyber Division, said he will go to China in November for about a week. Reigel and an assistant will meet with Chinese cybercrime officials to discuss intellectual property issues, he said.

The meeting marks a change in relations between the FBI and Chinese law enforcement, which historically has not been cooperative in U.S. investigations, Reigel said. “It’s baby steps,” he said. “We’re slowly making headway.”

Retired military officials and industry experts blame Chinese hackers for most of the attacks against U.S. military networks during the past five years. The cyberattacks have reduced the Defense Department’s information technology operational capabilities, according to those sources.

However, Chinese law enforcement has not acknowledged that any intrusions have come from Chinese servers, and the FBI has not made any accusations, Reigel said.

The FBI has also made strides in investigating Web sites that defraud visitors by purporting to collect money for Hurricane Katrina relief, Mueller said. The FBI has 31 active investigations and one indictment and expects more indictments soon, he said.

Since the week before Katrina hit, the FBI has found 4,600 Web sites that reference hurricanes or the name Katrina, Reigel said. Of the 4,600, 3,100 have been reviewed according to four criteria – two technical, two investigative, he said.

Sites that match three out of four criteria are set aside for further review, Reigel said. So far, about 100 Web sites are in that review pile, he said.

The FBI’s response efforts to Katrina are not affecting the implementation of Sentinel, its new flagship data management system, Mueller said. Bids will continue to come in for the next several weeks, and the bureau plans to award the contract by year's end, he said.

Sentinel will replace the $170 million Virtual Case File management system. The system, part of the FBI's Trilogy program to modernize the bureau’s obsolete computer systems, was never deployed after ongoing cost and schedule overruns.

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