Cybersecurity is national security

July 11, 2022 3:00 am

Cybercrime is increasingly a threat to businesses. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Whether you live in Omaha, Scottsbluff or points in between, one thing is clear — the cyber threat to our businesses, farms, food processing facilities, local governments and communities in Nebraska is increasing exponentially. Today’s cyber threats are more pervasive, hit a wider variety of victims and carry the potential for greater damage than ever before. From our offices in Omaha, Lincoln, Grand Island and North Platte, the FBI works to detect, deter and disrupt malicious cyber activity by proactively working with Nebraska companies and organizations, engaging with victims and imposing risk and consequences on cyber adversaries.

FBI special agents, computer scientists and intelligence analysts in Nebraska are ready to provide local expertise to victims upon notice of an incident. Partnership with and rapid notification from the private sector is crucial to ensuring our safety, security and confidence in a digitally connected world.

For 113 years, the FBI has stood shoulder to shoulder with state, local and federal partners to combat the major criminal and national security threats. The cyber threat is no different. The FBI is combating the cyber threat using lessons learned from our fight against terrorism after 9/11:  Our mantra is prevention and disruption — hitting hackers before or during their attacks.

The threat is only increasing. We saw Solar Winds supply chain attacks by the Russian foreign intelligence service in 2020, the Chinese government’s Microsoft Exchange Server intrusions in 2021 and ransomware attacks against the energy sector, major food processors and customers of managed service providers. These are just a small sampling of the high-profile attacks that have occurred recently. We have seen thousands of incidents targeting businesses and other victims in our state, the rest of the country and around the globe.

But we need your help. We can prevail only with the help of the business community. Most of the infrastructure, innovation, information and systems we strive to defend lives in the private sector. That is where our adversaries strike and where the intelligence we need often comes from.

To successfully combat our adversaries, it is essential that we have the benefit of the private sector’s insight, knowledge, experience and threat reporting. We must work together against the threats affecting businesses. Combining the FBI’s intelligence with what the private sector is seeing puts businesses and infrastructure in a better security posture before an incident occurs.

Cyber is one of the FBI’s highest priorities. Our strategy is multifaceted. First, we’re taking aim at the actors. Working with our foreign partners, we identify who’s responsible and then hit them with every lawful tool available: relentlessly seeking to extradite them to the U.S. to face justice and arming our partners in other countries with the evidence to arrest and prosecute them abroad. Second, we target their technical infrastructure by seizing or disabling their servers, domain and botnets and disrupting their operations. Third, we’re going after their

money. We trace many virtual currency transactions back to bad actors. Where we can, we’re seizing funds or shutting down illicit currency exchanges.

One of the most important actions you or your business can take in preparing for cyber security incidents, before an incident occurs, is developing a relationship with your local FBI office.
Make a cyber incident response plan and includes us in that plan. In the event you do suffer an intrusion, report the compromise early to us at 402-493-8688.

Early FBI engagement is critical to success. It allows us and our federal partners to provide the highest level of support. When the FBI quickly engages with a company, we’re able to share indicators that help network defenders identify malicious activity and intelligence about the actors that inform a company’s decision-making during a crisis. As the cyber threat has evolved over the past 20 years, one thing has remained the same: The FBI is at the center of acting on cyber threat information to provide support to victims and impose costs on cyber criminals. It’s what we do best.

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Eugene Kowel
Eugene Kowel

Eugene Kowel joined the FBI as a special agent in 2005. He now serves as the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Omaha field office, which covers Iowa and Nebraska.