There are upsides to reporting cybercrime, authorities say

Law enforcement and prosecutors might be able to help prevent further damage, they said

Not only might companies have ethical, civic and legal obligations to alert authorities to cyberthreats, businesses may find that the authorities can be helpful, law enforcement agents and prosecutors said on Friday.

Aravind Swaminathan, assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of Washington, took pains to describe the lengths to which his office goes to be sensitive to the needs of companies that report crimes. He spoke during a cybercrime conference at the University of Washington School of Law on Friday.

"Everybody's worried that their trade secret will end up on the front page of the paper," he said. "Trade-secret cases are hard, but work with us. We aren't obtuse. We know that's the stock and trade of your business."

His office is keen to work closely with businesses to ensure that sensitive data doesn't become public, he said. Documents going public isn't an issue until a case goes to trial anyway, and few of his cases make it that far. Most are resolved through plea agreements, he said.

His office can also make protective orders to prevent sensitive documents from being disclosed, or to require that a defendant's lawyer is present when viewing such documents.

In addition, for companies wary of bad publicity surrounding legal cases, his office is eager to promote the cooperation of the company as a way to offer some good publicity, he said.

Companies are less worried about bad publicity than they were five or six years ago, said Randy Gainer, a partner at the legal firm Davis Wright Tremaine. "The time for keeping these events under covers is gone," he said. Even if a company doesn't have a legal obligation to come forward about cybercrime, customers may figure out that an incident occurred, providing fodder for class-action lawsuits, he said.

Law enforcement agents said they are also sensitive to other issues companies might have. When David Dunn of the U.S. Secret Service E-Crimes Task Force responds to a company that calls about a data breach, he's very aware that the organization is in crisis mode, he said.

"We acknowledge that this is a usual event for us but very unusual for you," he said. But he can often help companies prevent further damage. He might recognize the attack from previous attacks and be able to direct the company to another vulnerability that the cybercriminal is likely to hit next. "We can provide information to help the company close a door," he said.

Because he's experienced with major cybercrime, he can direct companies about what types of files to copy and which to protect from being overwritten, in order to preserve data that might help track down the perpetrators. "We can help stop the bleeding," he said.

Boeing reported good experiences working with authorities on a couple of cases, including one where a former employee was threatening employees via email. The victims were given a contact at the attorney's office to talk to about their concerns and were only named by their initials publicly. "That went a long way to help people feel a little more comfortable," said Vanessa Lee, senior counsel at Boeing.

Dunn urged people to call his office even if the losses from a cybercrime might seem small. Sometimes the perpetrators make many smaller hits that add up, and he might be able to connect smaller attacks. He recently presented a case to the district attorney's office over a $2,000 loss, he said. But he and the attorney suspect the losses may turn out to have been in the millions once they investigate further.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags security

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?