U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday the launch of a new cybersecurity task force whose role is to help the Department of Justice find ways to combat cyber threats and become more efficient in this area.
The Cyber-Digital Task Force will focus on various types of threats, such as interfering with elections, disrupting critical infrastructure, using the Internet for spreading violent ideologies and recruiting followers, attacks that rely on botnets, the use of technology designed to hide criminal activities and avoid law enforcement, and the theft of personal, corporate and governmental data.
The task force has been instructed to submit a report to the Attorney General on these and other important topics, along with providing initial recommendations, by June 30.
The Cyber-Digital Task Force will be chaired by a senior Justice Department official and will include representatives of the Department’s Criminal Division, the National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office community, the Office of Legal Policy, the Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, the FBI, ATF, DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service. Other departments may be invited to participate as well.
“The Internet has given us amazing new tools that help us work, communicate, and participate in our economy, but these tools can also be exploited by criminals, terrorists, and enemy governments,” said Attorney General Sessions. “At the Department of Justice, we take these threats seriously. That is why today I am ordering the creation of a Cyber-Digital Task Force to advise me on the most effective ways that this Department can confront these threats and keep the American people safe.”
The U.S. government has been increasingly concerned about online campaigns whose goal is to interfere with the country’s elections. Russia is widely believed to have meddled in the 2016 presidential election and officials fear it will attempt to do so again in the upcoming midterm elections.
Officials are also concerned about cyberattacks launched by Russia and others against critical infrastructure in the United States.
In response to growing threats, the U.S. government has launched various cybersecurity initiatives. For instance, the Department of Energy is prepared to invest millions in cybersecurity and recently announced the creation of a dedicated office, and the Department of Defense has paid hackers hundreds of thousands of dollars for finding vulnerabilities in its systems.