The Federal Bureau of Investigations characterizes criminal and terrorist activity related to computer and information systems as one of the greatest threats to national security. In addition to the potential for foreign government operatives and terrorists to access and steal sensitive government information and weapons technology, the potential for computerized systems to damage the economic interests of U.S. companies is so great that it undermines national security.
In order to combat the billions of dollars lost each year due to cyber-attacks, the FBI has formed specialized units that can travel to any location on the globe in a matter of hours to investigate a cyber-attack or apprehend suspects. These Cyber Action Teams (CAT) are composed of Special Agents, computer forensic examiners, and intelligence analysts.
Cyber Action Team Job Functions
Using the vast resources of the FBI and federal government, CATs can rapidly analyze malicious code, identify possible designers and develop security systems that can counter them. While these units are critical in defending important government installations and data repositories from cyber-attack, they are just as important in keeping the public safe. FBI Cyber Action Team jobs involve working independently and with major software companies like Google and Microsoft to help millions of internet users stay aware of potential threats and criminal activity.
Due to the international origins of most viruses and malicious code, FBI CATs are prepared to work closely with the authorities in other countries. When apprehension of hackers requires U.S. assistance, CATs are able to deliver the intelligence and law enforcement skills necessary to quickly arrest and detain suspects.
The FBI Agents and staff on Cyber Action Teams are required to fulfill the following responsibilities as part of routine job duties:
- Investigate incidents where government information systems have been attacked or compromised
- Examine the crime scenes involving data storage devices or media using digital forensic techniques
- Maintain awareness of potential cyber-attack technologies, methods and signatures
- Partner with key academic and industry leaders to develop robust security systems and gain insights into malicious code designers.
- Travel to distant locations at a moment’s notice to investigate cyber-crimes and apprehend perpetrators
Cyber Action Team Salary
Cyber Action Teams are composed of Special Agents, intelligence analysts and computer forensic experts. Special Agents are well compensated with salaries that vary from the GS-10 pay grade up to GS-15. Their salaries are usually adjusted for cost of living, which may provide a 12.5 to a 28.7 percent salary bonus as well as Law Enforcement Availability Pay which adds another 25 percent to the salary for 50 hour work weeks and around the clock availability.
Professional staff members are not required to first join the Bureau as Special Agents, and have a different range of salaries. These computer experts and intelligence analysts may join the FBI at the GS-7 or GS-9 level, depending on possession of advanced degrees or extensive professional experience. They may also advance to the GS-12 pay grade.
For 2012, the salaries for the mentioned pay levels were: