US declaration of cyberwar coming: FBI InfraGard president

Chapter president rattles sabre at cybercriminals

Countries will continue to press the envelope to determine how much damage can be inflicted before the United States declares a cyberwar according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) associate.

FBI InfraGard Denver chapter president, Rick Dakin, told Computerworld Australia, that compared to more conventional forms warfare such as a ground invasion, the relatively low cost to conduct cyberwar was allowing many countries to take part.

The InfraGrad program is a partnership between the FBI and private enterprise in the US. According to its website, the program includes businesses, academic institutions, state and local law enforcement agencies, and other participants dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to "prevent hostile acts" against the country. Each FBI field office has an agent coordinator who contacts local companies to form a chapter.

"When our ambassadors are going to international treaty conferences where we are trying to decide the definitions of cyberwar and what appropriate responses to cyber attack should be, we have a new generation of thinking," Dakin said.

"What does our government or other governments think is an effective deterrent or response to an all out cyber attack? Since we have no good definitions or protocols, I do think that the attack on Lockheed Martin is a sign of the future."

His comments reflect those of McAfee US chief security officer, Brett Wahlin, who said last week that the Lockheed Martin attack could be the primer for a major attack by either China or North Korea on the West.

Dakin confirmed that InfraGard's mission had shifted in the past year to include cybersecurity. This was different from the FBI of the past which he said acted as the "national police" from the 1920s through to the 1990s until September 11, 2001 when the World Trade Center was attacked and the focus shifted to investigating terrorists.

According to Dakin, this new mission meant that the FBI had to shed its "secret" side and focus on public outreach to collect intelligence and help private organisations respond to known threats.

"Amazingly, the FBI is completing this transition in a very short period of time and the FBI InfraGard program was critical in getting the FBI connected to the community," Dakin said.

"The payback has been significant and the readiness of key infrastructure industries like the bulk power grid, banking and healthcare has dramatically improved."

For example, a chapter in Dallas conducted a bank security training day. The experts included bank regulators, FBI, law enforcement workers and commercial security firms.

"The community wants to hear from terrorism experts and they want to know how they can better protect themselves from cybercrime and other attacks on critical infrastructure."

Got a security tip-off? Contact Hamish Barwick at hamish_barwick at idg.com.au

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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