Last week I spoke at and attended the High Technology Crime Investigation Association International Conference and Expo 2004. The keynote speaker was US Attorney General John Ashcroft. Although I spent time furiously copying notes on his speech, the text is online. Not printed in that text was the AG's repeated theme: the US Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation are committed to "protecting lives and liberty." I thought this was a curious stance given the recent efforts to scale back the Patriot Act. The AG mentioned that "protect[ing] the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes" is the number 3 FBI priority.
I believe that if you are a low- to mid-skilled intruder physically located in the United States, you will eventually be caught. The days when hardly anyone cared about prosecuting digital crime are ending. The FBI has 13 Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIPS) units with plans to open more. The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) are available to US Attorneys across the country. The Secret Service operates 15 Electronic Crimes Task Forces. There are 5 Regional Computer Forensic Laboratories operating now with 8 planned to open in the coming years. The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is taking reports from victims of cyber crime and the National White Collar Crime Center supports law enforcement efforts. All of this adds up to a lot of federal, state, and local police working to bust bad guys.