Friday, June 20, 2008

Law Enforcement

Interacting with law-enforcement is always a sensitive topic. Fears that are commonly voiced are that "The Feds will come in and take control of the case", undesired media exposure, the black hole effect, etc.

Yesterday, I was able to attend a conference organized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part as their counter intelligence domain program. Some of my fears were countered by a case presentation in which the organization that was subject of a breach and reported it to the FBI presented their take on the collaboration, and was very positive about the nature and extent of the collaboration between them and the Bureau.


Yet, while driving back home and listening to the radio, the main topic was
the high-profile arrest of several Wall Street executives in "Operation
Malicious Mortgage
" (more here). Suddenly, the assurance that the Bureau would NOT
go to the press seemed a lot less valuable. Funny how photographers snapping pictures and TV cameras taping an "unannounced arrest" can change your opinion on these things.

But, I digress. The FBI is charged with a number of tasks. The top-3 of these tasks are:

#1 counter-terrorism
#2 counter-intelligence
#3 cyber security

One
might argue that #3 is really a dimenion of #1 and #2, but it is
interesting to see the objective clearly marked so high-up in the list
of priorities. Yesterday's conference has made me think a bit more
about things like intellectual property, trade secrets, etc. While it
is the FBI's job to ensure that these "assets" do not leave the
country, it is my job to make sure that they do not leave the organization I work for.

There is definitely a gap between the point where an
organization is willing to share information or technology, and the
point where a country is willing to do so. After all, that's what
export regulation is all about; companies develop a product or a
service that they consider to be theirs to sell, but then a national government
steps in to say that they cannot do that.

Anyhow; conferences
like these are definitely interesting and worth attending. If only to
see how 6 FBI vehicles are inconspicously parked at parking meters. The
"undercover" nature of these vehicles changes greatly when they are all
dark blue with dark tainted windows, federal government license plates,
blue and red flashers behind the wind shield, and "Special agent"-signs
on the dashboard.

The fact that FBI-agents seem to be all
wearing dark blue or black suits, white shirts, red ties and a nice shiny badge (possibly accessorized with a gun) also does not help :-)

Anyway;
if you ever get a chance; get involved with some of these events. If
you are eligible to become an Infragard member, that might be a way to
go. If not, simply picking up your phone and giving your local field
office a call before you have an incident also works.

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