FBI Agent Warns U.S. Government is “Behind the Times” Regarding Cybersecurity

An agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) recently noted his belief that the U.S. federal government is “way behind the times” in terms of addressing cybersecurity and cybercrimes.

Ken Schmutz, who is a member of the agency’s Cyber Task Force, reportedly told the Greater Des Moines Partnership that “Our cyber laws are actually way behind the times. We really need our folks in Washington to step up and make hacking have more penalties than it does. We’re chasing Russians, all the time.”

Schmutz, who the Iowa Capital Dispatch noted spoke as part of a panel on cybercrime, noted that extortion cases against U.S. firms have “soared” in recent times,” with marked growth in instances of ransomware and definitive links now between cyber-strikes and organized crime.

“It’s growing into organized crime,” Schmutz said. “They are highly organized into different groups. There’s a group doing the first part where they get the intrusion into the company. Then they’ll sit on it and maybe sell it to another group that does just the ransomware. And then you have another group that moves the money through crypto (currency).”

“Now that they are so successful,” he continued, per Iowa Capital Dispatch. “it’s definitely the number one cyber threat that we’re seeing that’s growing, and we have a lot of concern about work getting shut down at specific companies because that does a lot of damage to companies and the public.”

Among Schmutz’s specific recommendations are limiting employee access to some files, via Zero Trust policy, as well as assessing what content an organization can take offline.

He also noted that the FBI needs stricter penalties to disparage such activity.