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article imageFBI understaffed to ward off cybersecurity attacks, report says

By Caroline Leopold     Aug 1, 2015 in Crime
The Next Generation Cyber Initiative is meant to step up investigation of cyber crimes, but the FBI is having trouble attracting computer scientists and cooperation from the private sector, according to an independent study.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a report this week that revealed some weaknesses in the The Federal Bureau of Investigation's cybersecurity program begun in 2012.
Next Gen Cyber has a budget of $314 million and a total of 1,333 full-time jobs (including 756 agents). The DOJ asked for an $86.6 million increase in funding for fiscal year 2014 to support the Initiative.
The FBI had 52 open positions of the 134 computer scientists it was authorized to employ under in the Initiative. In addition, five of the 56 field offices did not have a computer scientist.
Lower salaries as compared to the private sector were cited by the report as the main problem, with stringent rules about past drug use being another. A worker cannot have used marijuana in the past three years.
The FBI is getting a lukewarm reception from private companies and individuals who have privacy concerns.
"Private sector representatives have also expressed privacy concerns about how the information collected will be used" the report states. "The private sector reluctance to share information has been further affected by the distrust of government created by the Edward Snowden leaks."
In addition, the report pointedly stated, "Information the FBI shares with the private sector is often considered by the recipients to be not useful because it is already known, lacks context, or is outdated."
The report comes on the heels of one of the largest cyber intrusions of the American government ever. Up to 22.1 million people may have been affected by the breach that was discovered in April, according to Reuters.
According to FBI director James B. Comey, Jr., the FBI considers protecting Americans from cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes as its number three priority, behind counterterrorism and counterintelligence, the report said.
The majority of internet and technology security experts have been warning of a catastrophic cyber attack within the next decade, causing widespread harm according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.
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