Security news that informs and inspires

U.S. Says Russia, Other Nations, Are Uncooperative on Cybercrime Investigations

A top United States law enforcement official called out Russia for not cooperating with cybercrime investigations on Russian citizens, and said the U.S. will continue to “identify nations that routinely block the fair administration of justice and fail to act in good faith”.

In a speech before the Interpol General Assembly on Sunday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the U.S. has extradited 95 Americans to other countries to stand trial, but said other countries are not reciprocating, particularly when it comes to cybercrime. Rosenstein pointed specifically to the case of Alexsey Belan, a Russian who is under indictment in the U.S. for several major attacks, including an intrusion at Yahoo. The U.S, has issued two arrest warrants for Belan, who was allegedly hiding somewhere in Europe. and Interpol also issued a Red Notice requiring law enforcement agents to arrest him in any country. But Belan eventually made his way back into Russia, where Russian intelligence recruited him, Rosenstein said, and had him target U.S. companies, including Yahoo.

“A second indictment alleges that in 2014, after Belan returned to Russia, Russian intelligence agents recruited him to carry out one of the largest data breaches in history, stealing information from more than 500 million individual email accounts of people around the world,” Rosenstein said.

“The rule of law suffers when cybercriminals are given safe havens. The United States will continue to promote the rule of law by identifying, exposing, and seeking to extradite perpetrators who harm innocent people.”

In the last few years, U.S. officials have taken a number of steps to put pressure on foreign governments and citizens who the U.S. alleges are involved in cybercrime and cyberespionage operations. The U.S. has issued indictments against several members of both the Chinese and Russian military and intelligence services for allegedly compromising American companies and stealing confidential data and intellectual property. Most recently, the U.S. charged three people and a Chinese state-owned company with economic espionage connected with theft of trade secrets from Micron Technologies.

"We will identify nations that routinely block the fair administration of justice and fail to act in good faith."

Rosenstein said U.S. officials plan to keep identifying countries that don’t cooperate with international cybercrime investigations or actively impede them.

“At the same time, we will expose schemes to manipulate the extradition process. We will identify nations that routinely block the fair administration of justice and fail to act in good faith, with a sincere commitment to holding criminals accountable,” he said.

“As cyber threats grow in scale and sophistication, we increasingly need to search throughout the world for evidence, witnesses, and defendants. Our responses must be as innovative as the criminal activity. We depend on expeditious international cooperation and coordination in dismantling malicious criminal operations.”

In his speech, Rosenstein also renewed the Trump administration’s call for technology companies to provide exceptional access to encrypted devices and communications. Rosenstein, like many government and law enforcement officials before him, said encryption presents a serious challenge to investigations and asked tech providers for cooperation.

“Encryption can be useful in the fight against cybercrime. Encrypting data makes it more safe and secure. But the proliferation of warrant-proof encryption also poses a challenge to effective law enforcement. We will continue to work closely with technology companies to establish responsible practices that consider both privacy concerns and public safety imperatives,” Rosenstein said.

In September, the Five Eyes group of nations--the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand--issued a joint statement saying that if technology companies weren't willing to cooperate in weakening the encryption used in their products, then legislation would be coming.