Executive Summary of Cyber Crime Task Force Plan
The St. Louis County Task Force will be a joint effort of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners. It is primarily tasked to curtail cyber criminalities, particularly in the State of Missouri and in the St. Louis County. It is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The tri-state law enforcement team is similar to the Boone County law enforcement unit as it targets child pornography, enticement, solicitation, and other sex-related offenses. The task force has three full time staff members consisting of a detective from the Lewiston Police Department and the Maine State Police; both of which are donated by their respective agencies. A third member, the supervisor of the unit, was added nearly two years ago through a budget awarded through the legislature. These three officers form the investigative and forensic component of the task force. They are supervised and administered by the FBI Program Manager and Agency Team Manager.
Cyber Crime Threats in St. Louis County
The digital world “created a new forum for criminal activity” (Britz, 2003). Predators can instantly reach a victim’s home or intrude a secured system. Also, the advent of the internet technology has also lowered common barriers. Hence, it has created victims of cyber crimes such as theft, intrusions, stolen privacy, etc. Cyber crimes are not necessarily fresh but due to the pervading use of technology, it has rapidly expanded.
Cyber crimes have grown far beyond the days when teenage hackers would break into a system only to check if they could. At present, organized criminal groups are breaking into formal financial systems and most of the cyber criminals are based overseas. Report on computer crime by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) confirms that, “almost all Fortune 500 corporations have been penetrated electronically by cyber criminals. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that electronic crimes are running about US$10 billion a year but only 17% of the companies victimized report these losses to law enforcement agencies (Stambaugh, et. al., 2000). Missouri ($4.5 million) ranked in the top half of states in reported financial losses from Internet crime (Lambrecht, 2012).
The primary functions of the task force include the following:
- Investigating and/or prosecuting cases against computer data and systems;
- Investigating and/or prosecuting criminalities coursed through computer data and systems;
- Carrying out computer forensics aligned with electronic evidences, in general.
What are the greatest cyber crime threats that St. Louis County is currently facing or likely to face in the near future? (Use data and statistics from outside the course text.) Which three types of cyber crime will be the top priorities for the task force?
According to Jerry Lee, the Director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, the main cyber crime threats in the state of Missouri from 2009 up to 2011 were: child pornography, enticement, solicitation, and other sex-related offenses (Lee, 2012). These, indeed, are the greatest crime threats that St. Louis is tackling. They will the top priorities of the cyber crime task force. Other areas of focus include cases of Internet Child Exploitation (Lee, 2012). Drug related crimes, as brought through the cyber world, will also be taken care of as it also grows in an alarming rate.
FY 2009 FY 2010 FY 2011
Arrested with one or more drug charges 6,009 5,556 7,141
Arrested with no drug charges 1,314 1,248 1,936
Total drug arrests 7,323 6,804 9,077
Search warrants served 1,088 1,208 1,134
Consent searches performed 3,718 3,776 2,903
Methamphetamine labs seized/destroyed: 1,206 1,449 1,593
New drug distribution organizations identified: 126 112 -
organizations dismantled: - - 32
Being so, the St. Louis County Cyber Crime Task Force should administrate in drug trafficking investigations and homecide, stalking, domestic violence and harassment cases, or a bank robbery linked to the use of computers.
Cyber Crime Task Force Structure
The task force shall utilize a multi-jurisdictional organizational structure (SOP of the Cyber Crime Task Force, 2008). It is composed of personnel tasked mainly from the law enforcement and the criminal justice agencies. It does not have any independent legal status distinct and apart from the individual sovereign government entities from which its personnel where derived. There is also no absolute client-employee relationship between these agencies nor any partnership or joint ventures.
In the supervisory level, the FBI Program Manager and Agency Team Manager are the two main personnel needed in the cyber crime task force. The former shall manage the everyday operational control, management, supervision, and accountability for the task force’s operations. He/she can assign daily operational matters to the Agency Team Manager. The FBI Program Manager assigns cases and responsibilities, prioritizes cases, takes care of the personnel needs of the task force, and administers the whole group, among others.
Meanwhile, the Agency Team Manager, works and functions as delegated by the FBI Program Manager. Hence, the FBI Program Manager has to be more discerning and should also know how to delegate tasks to his subordinates. Both personnel must work on the task force as full term personnel, however, the former has more leeway in terms of day to day attendance. Both positions require management, supervisory and administrative skills.
In the subordinate level, the task force should have three full time staff members. They must consist of the following: a detective from the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department and the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners; both of which are freely given by their respective agencies. The three staff are the investigative and forensic members of the cyber crime task force. They are responsible for coordinating computer crime investigations all over Missouri. However, their responsibilities are mainly narrowed on conducting computer forensic investigations. This is the skill which they have to hone through a three year training and by hundreds of hours of classroom, practical and certification examinations (SOP of the Cyber Crime Task Force, 2008).
Two Assistant Attorney Generals from the St. Louis County Sherrif Department provide the task force with legal support. The task force also includes representatives of local law enforcement agencies who have been assigned by their chief or sheriff to investigate computer crimes. They are trained by task force staff to investigate basic complaints and process computer crime scenes so that the evidence may be taken to the task force laboratory for forensic examination.
As stated, the main federal agencies which are directly linked with the task force is the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), the St. Louis County Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security. All the federal agency participants and all federally deputized personnel will be subject to the Attorney General Guidelines when they administer on behalf of the task force. The task force’s cases are also independently pursued as a state of Missouri’s matter in which state prosecution is anticipated, federal prosecution is not entertained, and a Missouri law enforcement officer is the main investigative officer for each case (SOP of the Cyber Crime Task Force, 2008).
Cyber Crime Task Force Equipment
As prescribed by the U.S. Department of State (2014), the main equipment needed for the cyber crime task force includes those directly linked in preventing or countering cyber crime activities. It includes the following:
- Work, private or public access devices or systems such as computers, Internet and library/database;
- Computer equipment such as computer, PDA, printer, media, webcam;
- Computer accessories like cradles, charging devices, batteries, or a notebook;
- Storage media such as memory cards and ThumbDrives®;
- Consumer electronics and accessories such as answering machines, cell phones, pagers, fax/scanner/copier machines, digital cameras, caller ID boxes;
- Internet or network connectivity such as telephone, digital subscriber line (DSL), and cable modems; hubs, routers, and wireless devices;
- Documents or notes which have access information (e.g., user names, passwords) or other evidence;
- Books, manuals, warranty information and software boxes (showing potential presence of corresponding devices or software);
- Alarm or access-control systems;
The forensic lab must provide a safe and secure physical environment driven to preserve the integrity of the evidence data and the work being accomplished. A special purpose forensic workstation is made up of integrated forensic processing platforms which can handle the hardest computer crime case. The special workstations wil often have removable hard drives that can be used for evidence storage (US Department of State, 2014).
Cyber Crime Legislation
Cyber crime legislation has gone long way back when the U.S. government initiated some legal moves to curb cyber crime via the legislation of important laws like the following: Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996, Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation Act of 1997, Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, Digital Telephony Act of 1994, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, etc. These legal passages have somewhat established the parameters of computer crimes in both areas of governance and law enforcement (Britz, 2003).
St. Louis County must also reinforce the provisions of the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the central agency of the U.S. government’s warning, investigation, and response system for threats to, or attacks on, the nation’s critical infrastructures (Britz, 2003). The NIPC is the focal point for gathering information on threats to infrastructures as well as “facilitating and coordinating the Federal Government’s response to an incident” (U.S. Department of States, 2000).
Conclusion Computer crimes are becoming more and more prevalent as the digital era depends wholly on technologies. The physicality and jurisdiction of cyber crimes are the main challenge. With the seriousness of the threats of cyber crimes in St. Louis County, the task force should be more focused on giving more security and protection in cyber space. As the immediate goal, the task force should collaborate and work together to enhance cyber security for St. Louis County.
The intangible nature of computer actions and processes and subsequent criminality is a major challenge for criminal investigators. Because of cyberspace, criminals cut across the geographic boundaries to commit their crimes. They are facilitated by international connections to easily do their criminal acts with impunity. The intangibility of crime scenes cripples the law enforcement. Aside from these, there is also no strong agreement or consensus among various countries to support each other in their criminal pursuits.
Another common problem is the inadequate knowledge and training of law enforcement in terms of handling computer related cases. In terms of profile, they have no distinctive lead as to who commits computer related crimes and who does not. Stereotyped nerdy and geeky computer criminals are outdated since most offenders fall form description. Not only that they are challenged to catch them in person, they are also ill-equipped to prosecute them. How do they prove that this person clicked the computer mouse so as to move a bomb from his little apartment to exploding a large commercial avenue in another country? As it is, the conventional setback in computer crime prosecution still lingers on.
There is also a grave challenge in the legality of putting down the computer criminals beyond jurisdiction and geographic boundaries. This weakness or lapse is a main threat and a very crucial matter as related to other serious crimes like terrorism, cyber terrorism and other terrorist activities facilitated by computer and Internet technologies.
Britz, M. (2003). Computer Forensics and Cyber Crime. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Lambrecht, Bill. (May 11, 2012). Missouri, Illinois victims report $15.5 million in Internet crime losses. St. Louis Post-Dispatch Website. Retrieved on June 30, 2014 from, http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/missouri-illinois-victims-report-million-in-internet-crime-losses/article_58235b10-9b9f-11e1-9372-001a4bcf6878.html.
Lee, Jerry. (2012). FY11 State Annual Report. State of Missouri, Department of Public Safety. Retrieved on June 30, 2014 from, http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/SAC/pdf/2011StateAnnualReport.pdf.
SOP of the Cyber Crime Task Force. (2008). “CCTF Priorities and Case Assignments.” Retrieved on June 30, 2014 from, http://cams.ocgov.com/Web_Publisher_Sam/Agenda08_12_2008_files/images/O00508-001752A.PDF.
Stambaugh, K. Beaupre R., Icove P., Baker S., Cassaday, L., and Williams, D. (2000). State and Local Law Enforcement Needs to Combat Electronic Crime Series: Research in Brief. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved on June 30, 2014 from, http://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles1/nij/183451.txt.
U.S. Department of State. (2014). Congressional Testimony on Cybercrime Strategies. International Information Programs, Washington File. Retrieved on June 30, 2014 from, http://cryptome.org/cycrime072600.htm.