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FBI Takes Over as First Responders for Cyberattacks

In the event of a cyberattack, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation first.

To clear up confusion over which department is the first line of defense against cyberattacks, the Obama administration announced Wednesday that the FBI will lead cyber investigations moving forward.

“As with terrorism, because it’s not always clear who is the actor, the FBI will take the lead,” said Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, speaking at the International Conference on Cyber Security.

“It will help answer a question heard too often from corporations and citizens alike,” Monaco said. “In the wake of an attack, who do I call for help?” 

While the FBI will play a key role in response to a significant cyber incident, communicating with field-level coordinators on the ground to coordinate an effective, multi-agency response to the incident, the directive also specifies the roles of other agencies.

The Department of Homeland Security will give technical assistance to the victims of cyberattacks, including helping the company protect their assets, shore up vulnerabilities, and reduce the impact of cyberattacks.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, via its federal Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, will take the lead on intelligence support and related activities, including analyzing threat trends, identifying knowledge gaps, and mitigating enemy capabilities.

The directive from the Obama administration also laid out principles for classifying the security of an incident which will determine how the agencies respond.

 “The scale of our response will be based on an assessment of the risks posed by a cyber-incident,” Monaco said. “How might it affect our national security or economy? Does it threaten the life or liberties of the American people?”

According to FBI Assistant Director James Trainor, Cyber Division, the directive “codifies the essential role that the FBI plays in cyber incident response, recognizing its unique expertise, resources, and capabilities. And as the Bureau continues evolving to keep pace with the cyber threat, the authorities contained in PPD-41 will allow us to help shape the nation’s strategy for addressing nationally-significant cyber incidents.”

Posted in General News

Tags: FBI, DHS, Federal Bureau of Investigation, cybersecurity, cyber, ODNI

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