Tuesday, September 15, 2015

HR 3490 Introduced – Cyber Forensics Institute

Last Friday Rep Ratcliffe (R,TX) introduced HR 3490, the StrengtheningState and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act. The bill authorizes the existing National Computer Forensics Institute that is run by the United States Secret Service.

The bill would add a new section to Subtitle C of title VIII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Section 822 (would become 6 USC 383) would require the Institute to provide training to, and conduct information sharing with, State, local and tribal law enforcement and court officials on {new §822(b)(1)}:

Cyber and electronic crimes and related threats, including threats of terrorism or acts of terrorism;
Methods for investigating cyber and electronic crimes, including crimes related to threats of terrorism or acts of terrorism, and conducting computer and mobile device forensic examinations; and
Prosecutorial and judicial challenges related to cyber and electronic crimes, and computer and mobile device forensic examinations.

The bill also authorizes the Institute to provide “computer equipment, hardware, software, manuals, and tools necessary to conduct cyber and electronic crimes investigations and computer and mobile device forensic examinations” {§822(d)} to State, local, tribal and territorial officials.

The bill would also requires that the Secret Service expand its network of “Electronic Crime Task Forces through the addition of task force officers of State, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges educated and trained at the Institute, in addition to academia and private sector stakeholders” {§822(e)}.

No new funds or personnel are authorized by this bill.

Moving Forward

Ratcliffe is Chairman of the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies Subcommittee of the House Homeland Security Committee and is a member of the Judiciary Committee, so he is well placed to move this bill forward. In fact, it is scheduled for a markup hearing before his Subcommittee on Thursday. And it does not hurt that the Homeland Security Chair is a cosponsor of the bill.

This is essentially a housekeeping bill since it is providing formal authorization for an existing organization. As such it will certainly come to the floor under suspension of the rules and will pass with bipartisan support. It would have a good chance of making it to the floor of the Senate under their unanimous consent process.


There is no wording in the bill that would indicate that the Institute should be looking at control system issues, but, then again, it does not specifically mention IT either. It would seem, however, that the Institute does not currently have much interest in control system issues. Their current course list does not list anything that would pertain to control system investigation tools or techniques.

Since we have not had any publicly acknowledge control system incursions in the United States that resulted in any damage or injuries, it really is not surprising that there is no law enforcement or judicial attention applied to this threat. It would be nice if language requiring such attention were added to the bill.

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