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New FBI boss says cyber crime, not terrorism, is top of Feds' todo list

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RSA 2014 The FBI's new director James Comey has told the RSA security conference in San Francisco that he is making thwarting online crime the major focus for his agency in the coming decade.

As a result, agents will shift from a reactive mode into a more forward-looking approach when tackling internet crims, by offering services with fast response times you'd expect from computers rather than their slower human builders.

For example, the FBI has been building a database of malware samples, snappily dubbed the Binary Analysis, Characterization, and Storage System (BACSS), for its investigators. Later this year a declassified version of this, dubbed Malware Investigator, will be made available to security partners, said Comey, who was sworn in as director in September.

"If a company has been hacked you can send the malware back to us and, in most cases, get a report back in hours about how it works, who it might be targeting and where we've seen it before," he told the conference today.

"Our goal is to make BACSS the same kind of repository that we have long maintained for fingerprints, criminal records and DNA."

The FBI will also expand its eGuardian program that allows companies to automatically update the agency about data security breaches involving classified and non-classified material.

Comey said he recognized there were concerns about US government intrusion into the online world, and pointed out that America itself was founded by people who were fed up with meddling rulers. But the internet is safe in the FBI's hands, he promised.

"Security has promoted liberty, there's not a tradeoff," he opined. "The men and women in the FBI are sworn to protect both, care deeply to our cores about both national security and liberty. We do not see it as a question of conflict – both those values pervade every investigation we undertake." ®

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