- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2002

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty in Virginia has created a new cyber-crime unit one of the largest in the country to specialize in computer and intellectual-property crimes. The unit will be manned by six federal prosecutors, all experts in the computer field.
"In today's digital age, there is an emerging crime problem in cyberspace," said Mr. McNulty, who heads the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria. "Increasingly sophisticated criminals are victimizing society in ways that are very difficult to detect and prevent.
"The rapid advancement of computer technology creates new opportunities for cyber-criminals to victimize consumers by intruding into their electronic records and stealing their private information and, sometimes, even their identifies," he said.
Mr. McNulty and FBI Assistant Director Van Harp, who heads the bureau's Washington field office, said the cyber-crime unit will focus on a wide array of criminal activity, including computer intrusions, denial of service attacks, virus and worm proliferation, electronic wiretapping, telecommunications fraud, political "hacktivism," web vandalism, Internet and computer fraud, theft, espionage and software piracy.
They said the unit will also work closely with federal, state and local law enforcement and industry to develop, coordinate and implement effective strategies to combat ongoing high-tech crimes.
"There are no free passes in cyberspace," said Mr. McNulty. "Crimes will be investigated and criminals will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Mr. McNulty described Northern Virginia as the "backbone of the Internet" and said that as a result, businesses and residents in the area are "particularly vulnerable" to computer intrusions, hacks, viruses and worms, some of which either shut down or disrupt service. He noted that Northern Virginia is home to the Pentagon and defense contractors, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, many Internet-service providers and a large number of technology firms.
He said cyber-attacks can result in damage to the victims' systems, the loss of business and the disclosure of non-public information.
The cyber-crimes unit will be manned by six full-time federal prosecutors, three of whom were hired using new funding from Congress earmarked for combatting computer crime. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Hanly will lead the unit, which will investigate crimes in Virginia's Eastern District.
Mr. Hanly prosecuted hacker Eric Burns, the Shoreline, Wash., teen-ager known online as "Zyklon," who pleaded guilty to breaking into the White House Web site in 1999. The White House Web site is run by computers in Northern Virginia.
Mr. McNulty said prosecutors in nine other cities, including Los Angeles and Seattle, have also set up cyber-crime units.

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