(For other news from the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit, click on
(Adds comments from FBI official, background)
By Jim Finkle and Joseph Menn
WASHINGTON May 14 The FBI is getting more
aggressive in pursuing cyber criminals and expects to announce
searches, indictments and multiple arrests over the next several
weeks, the agency's official in charge of combating cyber crime
said on Wednesday.
"There is a philosophy change. If you are going to attack
Americans, we are going to hold you accountable," the FBI's
Robert Anderson told the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in
Washington. "If we can reach out and touch you, we are going to
reach out and touch you."
Anderson said the FBI would show "a much more offensive
side" to its cyber program, which he took over in March.
He cited the previously unreported indictment of Dimitry
Belorrossov as an example of a recent success in the agency's
battle against cyber crime.
The Russian national was arrested at an airport in Spain
last year and lost an extradition battle after being accused of
running a botnet that attacked some 7,000 Americans, a case that
Anderson said was relatively small compared to some that are in
the FBI's pipeline.
Still, the arrest was one of a few that prompted Russia to
warn its citizens to be careful traveling to countries having
extradition treaties with the United States.
Anderson said the FBI would not be deterred from pressing
charges against suspected cyber criminals who lived in countries
that refused to cooperate in extraditing them.
In the past, the agency has avoided naming overseas suspects
in cases where they could not be extradited in a bid to avoid
embarrassing other nations.
"There's a lot of countries that will not extradite. That
will not stop us from pressing forward and charging those
individuals and making it public," he said.
Anderson said more criminal hackers are going to be arrested
under his watch, rather than turned into sources of knowledge
about how the underground operates.
But there can be exceptions when it comes to national
security priorities, he added.
Most notably, the leader of the LulzSec hacking group,
Hector Monsegur, has had his sentencing delayed more than a
half-dozen times as he cooperates and helps break into
high-value intelligence targets overseas, according to court
Anderson declined to say how many such hackers are helping
the government in that way.
Jim Lewis, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and
International Studies with strong ties to the intelligence
community, estimated that the FBI might work with about a dozen
such hackers, more than in previous years.
Anderson declined to comment on the status of the probe into
a weeks-long cyber attack on retailer Target Corp that
came to light in December. The investigation is being led by the
(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Ros Krasny and Jim Loney)