A.T. Smith, assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service’s Office of Investigations, recently testified before the House Committee on Financial Services about helping law enforcement protect private financial information. The testimony was given onsite at the National Computer Forensics Institute (NCFI) in Hoover, Ala. There, Smith discussed the agency’s role in protecting cyberspace, particularly as it relates to the safeguarding of U.S. critical financial infrastructure, and the skill sets acquired by law enforcement at the institute.

“Given that the majority of these crimes today are committed via electronic means, the Secret Service has become very active in the investigation and prevention of cybercrime,” he testified. “As a result of these investigations, and with the development of specialized training programs to equip our agents with the skills needed to gather forensic evidence to successfully prosecute these crimes, the Secret Service's work is critical to the protection of both physical assets and computer networks upon which our economy and our communities rely.”

Smith highlighted the work of the NCFI — the result of a partnership between the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate, the Secret Service, the state of Alabama, the city of Hoover, Shelby County, the Alabama District Attorney's Association, and the Alabama Securities Commission — to provide computer forensic training and tools to state and local law-enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges so they conduct computer forensics examinations.

“Investigators are trained to respond to network intrusion incidents and conduct electronic-crimes investigations,” he said. “This training also has the benefit of providing state and local law enforcement with the skills and tools to combat myriad crimes in their community.”

Smith also testified that building trusted partnerships among all levels of law enforcement, the private sector and academia is the right model for addressing cybersecurity challenges. It is through such wide-ranging and established partnerships that the Secret Service is able to help expand the collective understanding of cybercrime and continue to augment their prevention, advanced detection and prosecution efforts, he said, pointing to its joint 2010 Data Breach Investigations Report with Verizon, which analyzed more than 900 breaches, involving more than 900 million compromised records.

“The widely disseminated report offers recommendations to assist the private sector in securing their networks from internal and external threats,” he said.

Since 2008, the Secret Service has trained through the NCFI 644 state and local law-enforcement officials, 216 prosecutors, and 72 judges representing more than 300 agencies from all 50 states and two U.S. territories, according to Smith.

Read the testimony.