With thousands of attempted cyberattacks every day in the Baton Rouge region, U.S. Attorney Walt Green on Tuesday announced an initiative to help businesses, and particularly the chemical industry, guard against data breaches and theft of trade secrets.
Green said he wants more-robust communication between the lawmen and experts to address cybercrimes like computer intrusions and theft of intellectual property, as well as other computer-driven crimes. He is particularly concerned about the financial harm a cyberattack could bring to chemical plants in the Middle District, which covers East Baton Rouge and the surrounding parishes.
In announcing the initiative, Green brought together federal, state and local law enforcement representatives as well as academics and businessmen in a battle against homegrown and international attacks.
Cybercriminals are working together, said Wendell “Drew” Watts, supervisory special agent at the FBI New Orleans office.
“They’ve got a business model,” Watts said to a room of about 50 people. “They’re good at it. The bad guys are organized.”
Jeff Moulton, director of Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center at LSU, said the “most catastrophic hack for the intelligence community” so far has been the U.S. Office of Personnel Management breach, which affected 100 million people. Despite multiple class-action lawsuits, Moulton said, people affected received an average of only 23 cents in damages from the government.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, through the local initiative, will meet monthly to discuss threats with law enforcement, including representatives from the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, Homeland Security, the Office of Inspector General, Analytical and Fusion Exchange at Louisiana State Police, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will then meet quarterly with businesses to discuss cybersecurity threats.
Green said he wants to target big local industries such as chemical, oil and gas, banking and health care.
“We’re going to start doing outreach in the industry instead of just waiting for phone calls,” Green said.
Moulton noted how valuable health care information can be for cybercriminals: Health care data, due to the type of information that hospitals store, sells for 20 times the amount of basic credit card information.
The first meeting will take place March 16, Green said.
“We’ve done some cybercases in our office, and what we found out is that law enforcement, private industry and public industry, we’re not actually working together,” Green said. “We were overlapping and not putting our resources probably in the best place we could have to be more efficient.”
Green said the number of U.S. Attorney’s Office staff devoted to the initiative will fluctuate depending on the case load. His office has three employees trained in computer and intellectual property crimes.
He said he already has met with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and the Louisiana Chemical Industry Alliance.
“We’re going to tell (businesses) about the threats that we’ve got coming in,” Green said. “We’re going to tell them about emerging trends from D.C. in our district. We’re going to tell them about (cybercrime) prosecutions that’s public record.”
In addition, Green’s office will educate corporations on how to prevent cyberattacks and let businesses know how to reach out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office when they’ve been hacked.
“It’s sharing that information, sharing of threats, sharing of vulnerabilities,” said Stuart Tryon, Secret Service special agent in charge. “It’s all the parties working together to help come to a conclusion or resolution.”
Follow Danielle Maddox Kinchen on Twitter, @Dani_Maddox4.
Editor’s Note: This story was changed Feb. 3, 2016, to show that the correct name of the director of Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center at LSU is Jeff Moulton, not Jim Moulton.