Justice Department announces new 'Cybersecurity Task Force'

Posted Feb 21, 2018 by James Walker
The U.S. Department of Justice is establishing a Cybersecurity Task Force to help the department combat cyber threats. Its creation has been ordered by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It will report on the "most effective ways" to address cybersecurity.
File photo: Moscow-based internet security giant Kaspersky has estimated that there are over 1 000 h...
File photo: Moscow-based internet security giant Kaspersky has estimated that there are over 1,000 hackers in Russia specialising in financial crime
Kirill Kudryavtsev, AFP/File
Announced in a press release this week, the new Cyber-Digital Task Force will look at ways in which federal law enforcement can respond to cyberattacks and evolving issues. It will initially prioritise investigations into broad cybersecurity issues, including the use of technology to interfere with U.S. elections infrastructure.
The announcement comes mere days after 13 Russian nationals were indicted for allegedly tampering with elections. One of the taskforce's first aims will be studying systems that "interfere" with elections and critical infrastructure. It will work to provide the Justice Department with information that helps identify actors attempting to alter the outcome of democratic elections.
The taskforce will also be looking at the corrupting impacts of the Internet. It will assess how exploitation of devices impacts on U.S. citizens and businesses. Attention will also be directed to the theft of critical information from corporate bodies and governments, as well as the way in which "violent" ideologies spread online.
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Details of how the taskforce will achieve its aims are currently vague. The announcement explains that it will "canvass" ways in which the Justice Department combats the global cyber threat. It will take on an advisory role and report back to the Justice Department and Sessions. However, it's unclear how it will investigate the issues it's tasked with solving or what long-term impact it's expected to make.
"The Internet has given us amazing new tools that help us work, communicate, and participate in our economy, but these tools can also be exploited by criminals, terrorists, and enemy governments," said Sessions. "At the Department of Justice, we take these threats seriously. That is why today I am ordering the creation of a Cyber-Digital Task Force to advise me on the most effective ways that this Department can confront these threats and keep the American people safe."
Cybersecurity experts have so far approached the taskforce cautiously, telling Reuters it appears to lack a clear focus. The problems that will be investigated by the taskforce span a broad swathe of modern cybersecurity issues, so the taskforce's report could be limited in depth. It will deliver its first findings to the Justice Department before the end of June.