Law enforcement, military, intelligence, and homeland security agencies across the highest levels of the US government view cybersecurity and stopping cyberattacks as “a top priority” according to FBI Director James Comey.
The FBI is responding to these global threats in a variety of ways including the presence of cyber task forces in all of the agency’s field offices—56 in total.
Another way to respond is with the new program of placing cybersecurity experts in the FBI’s legal attaché offices (legat) around the globe. These efforts are critical to national security, since nefarious cyber criminals operate across national borders with a few strokes of their keyboards.
The program using “cyber assistant legal attachés,” or cyber ALATs for short, began in 2011 in a handful of legat offices facing significant cyberthreats that affected US interests.
Now in 2016, eight permanent cyber ALATs are stationed around the globe with two in London and one each in these countries:
- Australia (Canberra)
- Canada (Ottawa)
- Estonia (Tallinn)
- Netherlands (The Hague)
- Romania (Bucharest)
- Ukraine (Kyiv)
In addition, nearly twelve temporary duty cyber ALAT positions work where they are needed.
The benefits for the FBI include:
- Helping to eliminate jurisdictional issues between countries
- Improved working relationships with other countries that help to further FBI initiatives and investigations
- A deeper picture of particular cyberthreats
Host countries benefit greatly from the FBI’s cyber ALAT program. They get technical assistance in their cyber investigations as well as being able to share resources to investigate a particular cyberthreat. These professionals can also help provide cyber training to our foreign partners.
Obtaining a cyber ALAT position is a highly competitive endeavor since these positions require not only top-notch knowledge of computer intrusions, but extensive experience with liaison and task forces in addition to proven leadership skills.
It is heartening to know that the country’s best and brightest are hot on the trail of cyber criminals around the world.