By Jill King Greenwood
November 8, 2007
Pittsburgh has a unique crime-fighter, FBI Director Robert Mueller said
In a large building in South Oakland, FBI agents work alongside forensic
computer analysts, postal inspectors and the Department of Homeland
Security. They investigate and try to prevent cyber-terrorism before
Internet threats can affect the economy or infrastructure.
Mueller said the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance on
Second Avenue involves partnerships with numerous organizations, the
private sector and academia including Carnegie Mellon University and
Penn State University. He was in Pittsburgh to tour Carnegie Mellon and
talk about the threat of cyber-terrorism, which he said can range from a
hacker preventing baseball fans from buying tickets online to al-Qaida
using the Internet to communicate with new members.
"Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon in particular, have been on the cutting
edge of technology and computer science capabilities for years," Mueller
said. "Pittsburgh has developed a reputation for having the experts that
can work alongside law enforcement to investigate these crimes and
identify the attackers. Pittsburgh is the envy of those around the
The alliance houses nearly 70 computer forensics investigators, mostly
students and researchers, said its CEO, Ronald E. Plesco Jr.
Investigators receive data and cooperation from more than 600 companies,
as well as colleges and universities and law enforcement agencies
worldwide, to investigate online bank fraud, extortion attempts and
other cyber crimes, Plesco said.
Current investigations include fraudulent Web sites seeking donations
for victims of the wildfires in California and the Virginia Tech
Next month, six additional postal inspectors will be added to the team,
said Aaron E. Kornblum, senior attorney for alliance partner Microsoft.
Countries including England, Australia and Canada are looking to model
their cyber-terrorism investigations after Pittsburgh, Kornblum said.
Mueller said Internet crimes will continue to rise and pose threats
worldwide, but America is more secure than before the Sept. 11 terrorist
During a cyber crime conference in State College on Tuesday, Mueller
described as "misguided" a recent court decision that would prevent the
government from obtaining records from Internet providers without a
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