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Edgar A. Adamson
Chief, U.S. National Central Bureau

before a hearing 
of the

Subcommittee on Government Management, 
Information, and Technology

July 26, 2000

Computer Security: 
Cyber Attacks - War without Borders


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for providing me this opportunity to participate in today's Subcommittee hearing on computer security issues. I am currently assigned to the position of Chief of the United States National Central Bureau (USNCB) for INTERPOL, and possess thirty years of law enforcement experience as a Special Agent of the U.S. Customs Service. The USNCB is a component of the Department of Justice, with representatives from 16 U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, including both the Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury.

As the Members are well aware, the 'Information Revolution' has changed the world - providing unparalleled growth for our economy, and forever transforming the way we think about and use information. Our dependence on these new sources and methods grows daily - and at least some part of nearly every interaction we undertake now occurs within this 'virtual' world. Of course, this widespread dependence increases our vulnerability to criminal activity. The ease with which criminals can access the means necessary to commit cyber crimes, the multiple jurisdictions in which these crimes are committed, and the seemingly risk-free environment for the cyber crime perpetrator, are all factors that point to a possible increase in this type of crime in the near future.

Cyber crime is truly international in character, as the electronic frontier has no bounds. It demonstrates that the need for international law enforcement cooperation has never been greater. To respond effectively, U.S. law enforcement authorities must be able to overcome the very real cultural, linguistic, legal and digital barriers that complicate the positive exchange of criminal investigative information across national administrations and sovereign boundaries. The International Criminal Police Organization, INTERPOL, exists to facilitate this critical exchange among its 178 Member Countries, and provides the necessary framework, rules of police cooperation, and essential tools and services that promote the adoption and use of international standards, foster best practices, and permit investigative results.

INTERPOL recognizes the severity of the cyber crime challenge and is committed to achieving effective computer security and 'cyber enforcement' through the development and delivery of operational programs and training, the establishment of international standards, and the promotion of best practices worldwide. INTERPOL is in a unique position to facilitate timely and reliable notification concerning intrusion attempts, and information on the spread of computer viruses, through its worldwide communications network.

The role of INTERPOL, and particularly that of the USNCB, is often misunderstood. Before further describing INTERPOL's activity in the area of IT crime, I would like to take this opportunity to briefly present the Organization's structure and mission. INTERPOL officials are not James Bond-like detectives traveling the globe investigating crime. Instead, they assist operational efforts in each Member country by facilitating requests for criminal investigative assistance, and by providing expertise in a number of specific crime areas.

INTERPOL is the only global police organization. It is an inter-governmental alliance formed by 178 member countries for the purpose of exchanging criminal police information to combat ordinary law crimes and to support the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. INTERPOL is recognized by, and cooperates with, other leading international organizations including the United Nations, the World Customs Organization, the Council of Europe and the Organization of American States. The Organization works closely with the G-8, and with many non-governmental and private organizations with mutual interests in law enforcement issues and crime prevention.

U.S. representation to the INTERPOL organization is coordinated through the U.S. National Central Bureau, or USNCB. Sixteen federal and state law enforcement agencies participate at the USNCB - and their officers bring to bear literally hundreds of years of collective investigative experience across the entire spectrum of criminal enforcement, and specific expertise in the conduct of international criminal investigation. The USNCB does not compete with U.S. federal agency attaché programs; rather it complements them.

The United States has made a strong commitment to INTERPOL. U.S. Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly, has served for the last three years as Vice President for the Americas on INTERPOL's guiding Executive Committee. And FBI Deputy Director Thomas Pickard has announced his intention to continue U.S. leadership in the Organization, and will stand for election to the INTERPOL Executive Committee this November.

Also this November, Ronald K. Noble will become the first non-European, and first American, to hold the position of INTERPOL Secretary General. His candidacy - endorsed by the Attorney General and supported by the heads of U.S. federal law enforcement - prevailed on a platform of change to realize the Organization's full potential. His vision for INTERPOL advocates greater inclusion for all Member Nations and better use of electronic communication tools to increase the speed, accuracy and reliability of law enforcement exchange.

All 18,000+ U.S. law enforcement agencies - federal, state and local - may rely upon INTERPOL and the USNCB, to obtain needed intelligence and investigative assistance on computer security, and on all the variant flavors of cyber crime.

The INTERPOL Organization, and the USNCB, are involved daily in responding to requests for criminal investigative assistance on computer crime - traditional crime facilitated by information technology - such as child pornography, pedophilia, identity theft, and credit card fraud. And although its officers are not operational per se, INTERPOL is prepared to assist in the investigation of crimes against systems and networks, such as web site attacks and the malicious spread of viruses, and to help to sift through the thorny issues of jurisdiction and venue.

INTERPOL has taken an important role in coordinating worldwide law enforcement efforts in the area of IT Crime. Since 1990, the Organization has convened field experts for the purpose of sharing criminal investigative information, and developing international standards, best practice and training modules for the international law enforcement community.

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