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TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: ss.txt

Letter from the Secret Service about what they're gonna do to all of the computer criminals out there





Here is a letter from the Director of the Secret Service to US 
Rep. Don Edwards, D-California, in response to questions raised 
by Edwards' Subcommittee.                          
 
                                         DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY
                                         UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE
                                          WASHINGTON, DC 20223
                                         APR 30 1990 
 
 The Honorable Don Edwards
 Chairman
 Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights
 Committee on the Judiciary
 House of Representatives
 Washington,  D.C.  20515
 
 Dear Mr. Chairman:
 
 Thank you for your letter of April 3, 1990, concerning your 
 committee's interest in computer fraud.  We welcome the 
 opportunity to discuss this issue with your committee and I 
 hope the following responses adequately answer your  
 questions.
 
 Question 1:
 
 Please describe the  Secret Service's process for investigating 
 computer related crimes under Title 18, United States Code, 
 Section 1030 and any other related statutes.
 
 Response:
 
 The process by which the  Secret Service investigates 
 computer related crimes is similar to the methods we use to 
 investigate other types of criminal investigations.  Most of the 
 investigative techniques are the  same; surveillances, record 
 checks, witness and suspect interviews, etc.  the primary 
 difference is we had to develop resources to assist in the 
 collection and review of computer evidence.
 
 To provide  our agents with this expertise, the secret service 
 developed a computer fraud investigation course which, as of 
 this date, has trained approximately 150 agents in the proper  
 methods for conducting a computer fraud investigation.  
 Additionally, we established a computer  Diagnostics center, 
 staffed  with computer professional, to review evidence on 
 computer  systems.
 
 Referrals of computer related criminal investigations occur in 
 much the same manner as any other case.  A victim sustains a 
 loss and reports the crime, or, a computer related crime is 
 discovered during the course of another investigation.
 
 In the investigations  we do select, it is not our intention to 
 attempt to supplant local or state law enforcement.  We 
 provide enforcement in those cases that are interstate or 
 international in nature and for one reason or another are 
 beyond the capability of state and local law enforcement 
 agencies.
 
 When computer related crimes are referred by the various 
 affected industries to the local field offices, the Special 
 Agent in  Charge (SAIC) determines which cases will be 
 investigated based on a variety of criteria.  Each SAIC must 
 consider the economic impact of each case, the prosecutive 
 guidelines of the United States Attorney, and the investigative 
 resources available in the office to investigate the case .
 
 In response to the other portion of your question, the other 
 primary statute we use to investigate computer related crimes 
 is Title 18, United States  Code,  Section 1029 ( Access Device 
 Fraud).  This service  has primary jurisdiction in those cases 
 which are initiated outside a bank and do not involve  
 organized crime, terrorism, or foreign counterintelligence 
 (traditional responsibilities of the FBI).
 
 The term "access device" encompasses credit cards, debit 
 cards, automatic teller machines (ATM) cards, personal 
 identification numbers (PIN's) used to activate ATM machines, 
 credit or debit card account numbers, long distance telephone 
 access codes, computer passwords and logon sequences, and 
 among other things the computer chips in cellular car phones 
 which assign billing.
 
 Additionally, this Service has primary jurisdiction in cases 
 involving electronic fund transfers by consumer (individuals) 
 under Title 15, U. S. code, section 169n (Electronic Fund 
 Transfer Act).  This could involve any scheme designed to 
 defraud EFT systems used by the public, such as pay by phone 
 systems, home banking, direct deposit, automatic payments, 
 and violations concerning automatic teller machines.  If the 
 violations can be construed to be a violation of the  banking 
 laws by bank employee, the FBI would have primary 
 jurisdiction.  
 
 There are many other statutes which have been used to 
 prosecute computer criminals but it is within the purview of 
 the U.S. Attorney to determine which statute will be used to 
 prosecute an individual.
 
 Question 2:
 
 Has the Secret  Service ever monitored any computer bulletin 
 boards or networks?  Please describe  the procedures for 
 initiating such monitoring, and list those computer bulletin 
 boards or networks monitored by the Secret  Service since 
 January 1988.
 
 Response:
  

 Yes, we have occasionally monitored computer bulletin boards.  
 The monitoring occurred after we received complaints 
 concerning criminal activity on a particular computer bulletin 
 board.  The computer bulletin boards were monitored as part of 
 an official investigation and in accordance with the directives 
 of the Electronic Communications  Privacy  Act of 1986 (Title 
 18 USC 2510)
 
 The procedures used to monitor computer bulletin boards 
 during an official investigation have involved either the use of 
 an informant (under the direct supervision of the investigating 
 agent)  or an agent operating in an undercover capacity.  In 
 either case, the informant or agent had received authorization 
 from the computer bulletin board's owner/operator to access 
 the system.
 
 We do not keep records of the bulletin boards which we have 
 monitored but can provide information concerning a particular 
 board if we are given the name of the board.
 
 Question 3:
  

 Has the Secret Service or someone acting its direction ever 
 opened an account on a computer bulletin board or network?  
 Please describe the procedures for opening such an account and 
 list those bulletin boards or networks on which such accounts 
 have been opened since January 1988.
 
 Response:
 
 Yes, the U.S.  Secret Service has on many occasions, during the 
 course of a criminal investigation, opened accounts on 
 computer bulletin boards or networks.
 
 The procedure for opening an account involves asking the 
 system administrator/operator for permission to access to the 
 system.  Generally, the system administrator/operator will 
 grant everyone immediate access to the computer bulletin 
 board but only for lower level of the system.  The common 
 "pirate" computer bulletin boards associated with most of 
 computer crimes have many different level in their systems.  
 The first level is generally available to the public and does not 
 contain any information relation to criminal activity.  Only 
 after a person has demonstrated unique computer skills, been 
 referred by a known "hacker," or provided stolen long-distance 
 telephone access codes or stolen credit card account 
 information,  will the system administrator/operator permit a 
 person to access the higher levels of the bulletin board system 
 which contains the information on the criminal activity.
 
 As previously reported in our answer for Question 2, we do not 
 keep records of the computer bulletin boards on which we have 
 established accounts.
 
 Question 4:
 
 Has the Secret Service os0someone acting under its direction 
 ever created a computer bulletin board or network that was 
 offered to the public?  Please describe any such bulletin board 
 or networks.
 
 Response:
 
 No, the U. S. Secret Service has not created a computer bulletin 
 board nor a network which was offered to members of the 
 public.   We have created an undercover bulletin board which 
 was offered to a select number of individuals who had 
 demonstrated an interest in conducting criminal activities.  
 This was done with the guidance of the U.S. Attorney's  office 
 and was consistent with the Electronic Communications 
 Privacy Act.
 
 Question 5:
 
 Has the Secret Service ever collected, reviewed or 
 "downloaded" transmissions or information from any computer 
 network or bulletin board?  What procedures does the Secret 
 Service have for obtaining information from computer bulletin 
 boards or networks?  Please list the occasions where 
 information has been obtained since January 1988, including 
 the identity of the bulletin boards or networks,  the type of 
 information obtained,   and how that information was obtained 
 (was it downloaded, for example).
 
 Response:
 
 Yes, during the course of several investigations, the U. S.  
 Secret Service has "down loaded" information from computer 
 bulletin boards.  A review of information gained in this manner 
 (in an undercover capacity after being granted access to the 
 system by it's system administrator)  is performed in order to 
 determine whether or not that bulletin board is being used to 
 traffic in unauthorized access codes or to gather other 
 information of a criminal intelligence nature.  At all times, 
 our methods are in keeping with the procedures as outlined in 
 the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
 
 If a commercial network was suspected of containing 
 information concerning a criminal activity, we would obtain 
 the proper court order to obtain this information in keeping 
 with the ECPA.
 
 The U. S. Secret Service does not maintain a record  of the 
 bulletin boards we have accessed.
 
 Question 6:
 
 Does the Secret Service employ, or is it considering employing, 
 any system or program that could automatically review the 
 contents of a computer file, scan the file for key items, 
 phrases or data elements, and flag them or recommend further 
 investigative action?  If so, what is the status of any such 
 system.  Please describe this system and research being 
 conducted to develop it.
 
 Response:
 
 The Secret  Service has pioneered the concept of a Computer  
 Diagnostic Center (CDC)  to facilitate the review and 
 evaluation of electronically stored information.  To streamline 
 the tedious task of reviewing thousands of files per 
 investigation, we have gathered both hardware and software 
 tools to assist our search of files for specific information or 
 characteristics.  Almost all of these products are 
 commercially  developed products and are available to the 
 public.  It is conceivable that an artificial intelligence process 
 may someday be developed and have application to this law 
 enforcement function but we are unaware if such a system is 
 being developed.
 
 The process of evaluating the information and making 
 recommendations for further investigative action is currently 
 a manual one at our CDC.  We process thousands of computer 
 disks annually as well as review evidence contained in other 
 types of storage devices (tapes, hard drives, etc.).   We are 
 constantly seeking  ways to enhance our investigative mission.  
 The development of high tech resources like the CDC saved 
 investigative manhours and assist in the detection  of criminal 
 activity.
 
 Again, thank you for your interest.  Should you have any further 
 questions, we will be happy to address them. 
 
                                                 Sincerely, 
                                                 /s/
                                                 John R.  Simpson, Director
 
 cc: Honorable Charles E.  Schumer


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