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New DOJ Fellowship Program to Bridge Gap in Cyber Law Knowledge

by Chris Brook on Monday August 30, 2021

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The Justice Department announced a new Cyber Fellowship program for attorneys to develop skills to handle emerging national security threats like ransomware.

The Justice Department has a solution to help combat the surge in cyberattacks disrupting national security.

Announced on Friday, a new DOJ fellowship program will help develop the necessary legal talent to respond to mounting threats like ransomware, advanced persistent threat groups, and the use of cryptocurrency by cybercriminals.

The country's laws have understandably had a difficult time keeping up with the pace of technology, especially over the last decade, a span that’s seen threats like ransomware knock businesses offline for weeks and hackers drain millions from bank accounts in the snap of a finger. The gaps between technology and cyber law are getting wider, making it challenging for governments to interpret law that’s applicable to them.

The DOJ's Deputy Attorney General, Lisa Monaco, announced the program, saying it would be coordinated through the department's Criminal Division, specifically its Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, on Friday.

“As we have witnessed this past year, cyber threats pose a significant and increasing risk to our national security, our economic security, and our personal security,” said Deputy Attorney General Monaco. “We need to develop the next generation of prosecutors with the training and experience necessary to combat the next generation of cyber threats. This Fellowship gives attorneys a unique opportunity to gain the well-rounded experience they need to tackle the full range of those threats.”

Fellows will "handle a broad range of the cyber cases performed by the department," including how to investigate and prosecute “state-sponsored cyber threats; transnational criminal groups; infrastructure and ransomware attacks; and the use of cryptocurrency and money laundering to finance and profit from cyber-based crimes.”

Creation of the fellowship is yet another effort carried out by the DOJ this year in attempt to crackdown on hackers and cyberthreats.

In June, Monaco issued a memorandum for federal prosecutors pointing out how the uptick in recent attacks - she cited the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline – underscores the growing threat.

"The department must make sure that its efforts in combating digital extortion are focused, coordinated, and appropriately resourced," Monaco wrote, " To ensure we can make necessary connections across national and economic security threats we face, we must enhance and centralize our internal tracking of investigations and prosecutions of ransomware groups and the infrastructure and networks that allow these threats to persist."

The memo, which came out around the same time the DOJ said it was planning on handling ransomware investigations akin to the way it handles terrorism cases, also asked attorneys to file an urgent report every time they become aware of a new ransomware attack in their district, or when there's a new case opened or plea in a case involving ransomware.

Tags: Government

Chris Brook

Chris Brook is the editor of Data Insider. He is a technology journalist with a decade of experience writing about information security, hackers, and privacy. Chris has attended many infosec conferences and has interviewed hackers and security researchers. Prior to joining Digital Guardian he helped launch Threatpost, an independent news site which is a leading source of information about IT and business security for hundreds of thousands of professionals worldwide.

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