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DOJ Launches Cyber Unit to Prosecute Nation-State Threat Actors

New National Security Cyber Section will help the US disrupt and prosecute nation-state threat actors and state-sponsored cybercriminals.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a new litigating section to increase its ability to disrupt and prosecute nation-state threat actors and state-sponsored cybercriminals.

Part of the National Security Division (NSD), the newly announced National Security Cyber Section – known as NatSec Cyber – will increase the Justice Department’s capacity to fight malicious cyberattacks threatening national security.

“This new section will allow NSD to increase the scale and speed of disruption campaigns and prosecutions of nation-state threat actors, state-sponsored cybercriminals, associated money launderers, and other cyber-enabled threats to national security,” NSD Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said.

In tackling growing threats by nation-state attackers, the NatSec Cyber will also bolster intragovernmental collaboration between the Criminal Division’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and the FBI’s Cyber Division.

Nation-state actors from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are increasing the sophistication and frequency of attacks against critical infrastructure, telecommunication firms, healthcare organizations, and other entities, and are also conducting malicious activities to steal funds and intellectual property in support of their governments’ interests, Olsen points out.

Actions the US has taken against these threats include the disruption of the Russia-linked Snake malware and Cyclops Blink botnet, preventing North Korean hackers from using $100 million in ill-gotten cryptocurrency, and indictments and prison sentences against individuals associated with nation states and cybercriminal groups.

NatSec Cyber, Olsen notes, will deepen the US government’s expertise and effectiveness, allowing it to act quicker on these threats.

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“NatSec Cyber will give us the horsepower and organizational structure we need to carry out key roles of the Department in this arena. NatSec Cyber prosecutors will be positioned to act quickly, as soon as the FBI or an IC partner identifies a cyber-enabled threat, and to support investigations and disruptions from the earliest stages, Olsen said.

Approved by the Congress, the Cyber Section was created in response to the findings in Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco’s Comprehensive Cyber Review (PDF) in July 2022.

Related: US Infiltrates Big Ransomware Gang: ‘We Hacked the Hackers’

Related: Cybercriminals, APT Exploited Telerik Vulnerability in Attacks on US Government Agency

Related: US Cryptocurrency Promoter Pleads Guilty to Advising NKorea

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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