Inside the FBI: Overseas Program Expands to Face Global Cyber Threat
October 27, 2016
The FBI’s program to place cyber investigators beyond America’s borders is expanding in response to an evolving cyber threat.
Mollie Halpern: The FBI’s program to place cyber investigators beyond America’s borders is expanding in response to an evolving cyber threat.
Paul J. Vitchock: Cyber crime has no borders. A cyber crime problem that affects one country can very easily affect another.
Halpern: That was Supervisory Special Agent Paul Vitchock.
Vitchock: It’s a shared threat. And so, one of the best ways to attack this threat is cooperation. The best way for us to identify those actors and to stop that victimization is to work with all the countries involved.
Halpern: Vitchock served as a cyber assistant legal attaché, or ALAT, at the U.S. Embassy in Romania for three years. He explains the role of an ALAT…
Vitchock: Their job is essentially to build relationships with the international partners in that country or region for the purposes of preserving evidence, responding to a cyber event, building capacity with the host government, assisting them with their investigations as well as asking them to assist with ours.
Halpern: Nearly 20 cyber ALATs and growing are serving overseas, whereas just a few years ago there were only a handful. Vitchock says the agents’ presence helps foster strong relationships.
Vitchock: You have to find common ground. You have to understand where you differ and why. And if you’re not there, you can’t do that—not to the degree. Particularly in something like cyber, where it moves so fast.
Halpern: The FBI provides training to partner countries. In Vitchock’s case, his Romanian partners received training tailored to their needs.
Vitchock: The instructors were FBI agents—cyber agents with field experience—so they had the ability not only to teach the material but talk about the practical applications of how this really works in conducting a cyber investigation.
Halpern: Cyber ALATs are located in cities such as Ottawa, Bucharest, and Tokyo. Thanks for listening to Inside the FBI. I’m Mollie Halpern of the Bureau.