Home News Speeches Working Together to Protect National Infrastructure from Crime and Terrorism
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • InfraGard 2005 National Conference
  • Washington, D.C.
  • August 09, 2005

Good afternoon. Nearly 10 years ago, we joined forces with you to defend our critical national infrastructure. Since then, we have worked side-by-side to protect our businesses, our communities, and our families from crime and terrorism.

We have diverse backgrounds and different specialties--from emergency responders to entrepreneurs, from computer programmers to chemical engineers, from FBI Agents to farmers. But we face the same threats to our way of life.

Through InfraGard, you have become vital members of a long-standing partnership between the FBI and the private sector. Today, our partnership is more important than ever, because the threats we face are more diverse than ever. And the only way to defeat these threats is by standing strong together.

***

Today I want to talk about what we in the FBI are doing to protect our national infrastructure from crime and terrorism. I want to talk about the value of working together and sharing information through programs like InfraGard. And I want to talk about what each of us can and must do to prevent crime and to prevent the next terrorist attack.

***

I. The FBI: Protecting Our Infrastructure

Our national infrastructure is a soft target, ranging from bridges and buildings to public utilities and power grids across the country. More than 90 percent of our infrastructure is owned and operated by private industry or state and local governments. And it is increasingly managed by computer networks and the Internet.

The Internet has opened the doors to a new world of communication and commerce. But technology is a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs and engineers are not the only ones who recognize the vast potential of the Internet. Criminals and terrorists do, too.

For example, in Australia, a computer hacker used a laptop and a two-way radio to hack into a sewage control computer system, releasing more than 250 million tons of raw sewage on to the grounds of a luxury resort hotel.

In Russia, hackers took control of a gas pipeline for 24 hours by penetrating electronic control systems.

In Ohio, the Slammer worm computer virus attacked a nuclear power plant, preventing the plant’s computers from communicating with each other and disrupting safety systems for more than five hours.

And we have all heard story after story about one of today’s most pervasive threats: identity theft. Every day, cyber criminals steal our most personal information--from our financial data to our social security numbers to our security passwords.

Terrorists who shun our way of life are more than willing to use our technology to carry out and publicize their attacks--from airplanes used as missiles, to coordinated attacks on mass transportation, to videotaped beheadings posted on the Internet.

These examples show that as technology evolves, so does crime. International jet travel, cell phones, and the Internet have erased geographical boundaries.

In his new book, “The World is Flat,” New York Times columnist and author Tom Friedman asserts that advances in technology, travel, and communication have broken down walls between continents, countries, and individuals. Now, anyone can hop online, on board, or on the phone and connect with the world.

The advantage to this is that we are collaborating and connecting in ways never before imagined. The disadvantage is that Al Qaeda and other criminal organizations are using that same technology to wreak havoc around the world. Criminals and terrorists no longer need to be in the same room, or even the same country, to plan, finance, and execute attacks. Increasingly, technology and the global community of the Internet are used not only to break down walls, but to sustain and nurture hatred and violence.

Fortunately, we, too, are breaking down walls. We are using technology to win the war against crime and terror. We are creating a “flat world” within the Bureau, and within the intelligence and law enforcement communities. And we are working together in new ways and with new partners.

For example, agents and analysts in our Cyber Division protect against theft of intellectual property, child pornography, online fraud, and computer intrusions. Our Cyber Action Teams travel around the world on a moment’s notice to assist in computer intrusion and counterterrorism cases.

Our Joint Terrorism Task Forces combine the resources of special agents and analysts, police officers, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the IRS, just to name a few. Together, these task forces investigate cases and share information.

We are also working with our partners around the world to defeat crime and terrorism. We have joined forces with the Hungarian National Police to tackle organized crime syndicates in Eastern Europe. We are gathering intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan and hunting down terrorists with our partners in Pakistan, Morocco, and Indonesia.

II. The InfraGard Program

We are not limiting our collaborative efforts to our international partners, or to law enforcement and intelligence agencies. We are also working with members of the private sector and sharing information through programs like InfraGard.

To date, there are more than 11,000 members of InfraGard. From our perspective, that amounts to 11,000 contacts…and 11,000 partners in our mission to protect America.

InfraGard is one of our most important links to the private sector. We recognize that in certain areas we lack the expertise that you possess. We lack the specific knowledge of threats that affect individual businesses every day. That is why we need your help, and why we continue to ask for your cooperation.

The threat to our infrastructure is broad, from computer intrusions to breaches of physical security to terrorist threats. Today, a command sent over a network to a power station’s control computer could be just as deadly as a backpack full of explosives, and the perpetrators might be more difficult to identify and apprehend. But we stand a much greater chance of preventing an attack on our infrastructure by working together.

Someone who understood the value of working together, Henry Ford, once said: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.

Working together, we have already had successes.

For example, an InfraGard member in Colorado was the first to alert the FBI to the theft of computer software templates used by energy providers in the United States. We might not have been aware of this theft without the information provided by our InfraGard member.

InfraGard members serve as resources to agents and analysts in pending investigations. While working on a highly sensitive counterterrorism case last year, agents in Phoenix turned to several InfraGard members for information on a complicated high-tech issue.

And in San Francisco, InfraGard members briefed agents and analysts on risks associated with different infrastructures, including power grids, air traffic control, and chemical and nuclear facilities.

The InfraGard program has been so successful that we are taking it in new directions.

In 2003, through our Albuquerque Field Office, we started a program called AgriGard. Members of the agricultural community share information with scientists, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement, and the FBI through a secure web portal. Members can pose questions about farm and food security, and alert the FBI to any suspicious or unusual activity.

We are implementing a similar program for those in the chemical industry.

III. Our Collective Roles in Preventing Crime and Terror

Partnerships enhance our collective knowledge and improve our ability to confront criminal and terrorist threats. But information sharing is a two-way street. We cannot investigate if we are not aware of the problem. Those of you in the private sector are the first line of defense.

Let me give you an example. In late 2004, a computer hacker infiltrated CardSystems, Inc., a credit card processing company in Tucson, Arizona. Thousands of credit card numbers were stolen.

When the company discovered the breach earlier this year, representatives quickly contacted the FBI to initiate an investigation, based on the recommendation of an employee who is an InfraGard member. Because of CardSystem’s quick response, we were able to start the investigation immediately, before the trail went cold. Unfortunately, timely reporting like this is only too rare.

According to a survey by the Computer Security Institute and the FBI, only 20 percent of companies that experienced computer intrusions in 2004 reported those incidents to law enforcement. Respondents said they did not alert authorities because they feared negative publicity and loss of competitive advantage.

We know that you have practical concerns about reporting breaches of security. You may believe that calling us will adversely impact your organization’s image and competitive position in the marketplace. You may need to protect confidential information to maintain the trust of your customers and clients.

We know that putting on raid jackets and rushing in may not be the best way to get the job done. We need to minimize the disruption to your business and protect your interests. But we must find a way to stop these attacks. Maintaining a code of silence will not benefit you or your company in the long run.

President Reagan once said, “To sit back, hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last--but eat you he will.”

Our safety lies in protecting not just our own interests, but our critical infrastructure as a whole. There are cyber criminals who will hit company after company. Disgruntled employees who will use knowledge gained on the job against their employers. Terrorists who may attempt to harm our infrastructure in a multitude of ways. We cannot continue to feed the crocodile.

If you note suspicious activity or an unusual event--from a computer intrusion, to a disgruntled employee, to a breach of physical security--notify your InfraGard coordinator, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, or your local police. We must be constantly alert to the possibility of crime and terrorism.

There is an example that drives the point home. Roughly one year ago, police arrested a man for possession of homemade ricin--a deadly poison. He had placed a large order for castor seeds-- the material used to make ricin--with a seed company in New York.

Employees of the seed company became suspicious and called the FBI. When FBI agents searched the man’s home, they found jars clearly labeled “Caution--ricin poison.” They also found large amounts of castor seeds and both the chemicals and the equipment used to manufacture ricin.

We found this man before he could harm anyone, based on the tip from the seed company employees. This is an example of the private sector and the FBI working together to fight crime and terrorism.

And this partnership extends “outside of the office.” While shopping in a home improvement store, an InfraGard member noticed several teenagers buying items that could be used to build a pipe bomb. He took down the license plate number of their car, and called the authorities.

As it turns out, these teenagers were planning to build a pipe bomb. This individual’s vigilance and quick response to a potential threat may have thwarted a deadly attack.

***

Success stories like these reinforce the need for vigilance and cooperation.

No person, no police officer, no agency, no company, and no country can prevent crime and terrorism on its own. There are too many potential weapons, too many avenues of attack, too many unlocked doors.

Baseball great Babe Ruth once said that “the way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” The way our team plays as a whole will determine our success.

In this era of globalization, in this flat world, working side-by-side is not just the best option, it is the only option. It is vital that we use our collective resources to protect our national infrastructure. It is by working together through programs like InfraGard that we will win this war. Partnerships strengthen our response against the many forces who seek to do us harm. From Portland to Phoenix to Philadelphia, we must stand together to protect our communities, our businesses, and our families. Together, we will keep our nation safe.

Thank you and God Bless.

 
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