Partnerships are key to the FBI’s success in its cyber efforts, and the Bureau is always working to develop collaborative relationships with both law enforcement and the private sector. Wray encouraged the private sector to keep the lines of communication open, especially in the event of a breach of their systems.
“While we may not be able to stop all threats before they begin, we can do a lot more in the early stages, at the beginning, to stop threats before they get worse. We can share information. We can identify signatures. We can stop similar attacks from happening elsewhere,” Wray said. “But to do that, we need the private sector to work with us.”
Once hackers or other cyber adversaries are identified, the FBI and partner agencies work to impose some cost on them—even if they are not in the United States to be arrested and tried in the American justice system. Sometimes the best approach is “naming and shaming”—unsealing indictments and letting cyber criminals know that they are fugitives wanted by the FBI—or seeking sanctions from the Treasury Department.
Wray described the “urgency of the task we all face” and said all parties involved in cyber security need to “raise our game” as the threats grow. He specifically cited the “Going Dark” problem—in which the FBI and other law enforcement agencies cannot access devices lawfully allowed to be accessed with appropriate technical tools—as a critical issue that the private and public sectors must work collaboratively to solve to preserve public safety.
“Whether we’re in law enforcement, the government, private sector, technology industry, the security field, and academia—we’re going to need to figure out a way to work together and stay ahead of the threat and to adapt to changing technologies and their consequences, both the expected ones and the unexpected ones,” Wray said. “Because at the end of the day, we all want the same thing—which is to protect our systems, protect our innovation, and above all, to protect our people.”
In a subsequent session at the conference, FBI Cyber Division Assistant Director Scott Smith briefed attendees on the FBI’s global partnerships, particularly the success the FBI has had in working closely with Europol and its cyber crime center. Most recently, the partnership helped take down the Andromeda botnet.
“These aren’t issues of the United States, and these aren’t issues of any country alone,” Smith said. “They are global issues that require global solutions to the problems.”