Fall 2020 Newsletter Submission

What immediately comes to mind when you think of the United States Secret Service?  Protection detail?  Check.  Investigating counterfeit US currency?  Check.  And in fact, this was the impetus behind creating the agency back in 1865 following the Civil War.  The agency’s mission and presence has increased dramatically from just a few operatives in 1865 to almost 7,000 employees in field offices spread across five continents.  The responsibilities of the USSS have evolved over the course of time to also include access device fraud, network intrusions, illicit financing operations and money laundering, cryptocurrency illicit activity, POS system compromises, business email compromises, ransomware, identify theft and other 21st century cyber-enabled financial crimes.

In 1996, the Secret Service established an Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) in New York with the intent of developing a partnership to share resources and knowledge amongst law enforcement at all levels, private industry and academia.  The ECTF program evolved to 40 strategically dispersed task forces, comprised of over 4,000 private sector personnel, 2,500 members of law enforcement and 350 academia partners.  The ECTFs have prevented over $13 billion in losses while arresting approximately 10,000 individuals since their inception.

In early 2020, the Secret Service made the decision to combine its ECTFs with their Financial Crimes Task Forces (FCTFs) based on the growing convergence of cyber and what was once more traditional financial crimes.  Thus, the Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF) was born.  The Secret Service currently has CFTFs in 40 domestic offices and two international locations – Rome & London.  Online payments and banking are now globally pervasive, credit card numbers and personal information are illegally sold on the Internet and dark web, and cryptocurrencies have become one of the primary means by which criminals launder their illicit profits.  Investigators can no longer effectively pursue a financial or cybercrime investigation without understanding both the financial and Internet sectors, as well as the technologies and institutions that power each industry.  Through the rebranded CFTFs, the Secret Service aims to improve the coordination, sharing of expertise and resources, and dissemination of best practices for all its core investigations of financially-motivated cybercrime.

The Washington State HTCIA chapter has developed and continues to cultivate a strong partnership with the Seattle CFTF.  Jointly sponsored training events have included topics such as Cloud Forensics and Securing Cyber and Physical Infrastructure.  The Cloud Forensics training (pre-COVID19) proved to be an extremely valuable in-person networking opportunity for members of both groups and we look forward to more events of that nature at the appropriate point in the future.  The groups also have shared other training opportunities, above and beyond the jointly sponsored events, whenever appropriate.  The CFTF provides practical resources on a recurring basis to its members including malware analysis reports, phishing and malware IPs and URLs, awareness bulletins, trends in the cyber realm, articles of interest and much more.

For more information on the Secret Service, please visit https://www.secretservice.gov/.