Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Sarah R. Saldaña today presided over the unveiling of a major expansion of the ICE Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va.
The expanded center will provide ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with enhanced operational and training capabilities in order to meet the growing cyber mission of the agency and increasing workload of criminal cases with a cyber-nexus.
"The men and women of Homeland Security Investigations perform critical work in combating criminals that use the computer as their weapon, perpetrating crimes ranging from child exploitation to the theft of intellectual property," said Deputy Secretary Mayorkas. "The development of this expanded Cyber Crimes Center provides this great workforce with the facility and tools they deserve to accomplish their mission."
In 1997, the U.S. Customs Service created the Cyber Crimes Center – which became known as "C3" – in response to changing technologies and its effect on criminal trends. While C3's mission has evolved dramatically since its creation, little renovation has been made since then to update the physical space.
The expansion unveiled July 22 includes the build-out of a 5,000-square-foot forensic laboratory, space for coordinating large cyber operations, an evidence vault, and multiple training and conference rooms.
According to ICE Director Saldaña, today's C3 is better equipped for combating cybercrime in today's age: ICE's cybercrime strategy focuses on network intrusion and online theft of intellectual property and online theft of export controlled data; cyber economic crimes to include the sale and conversion of stolen credit card data and personally identifiable information into criminal proceeds; and cyber enabled crimes like child exploitation, illicit underground marketplaces, document fraud, and other crimes that have transitioned from the physical to virtual world.
C3's current mission involves keeping pace with emerging computer technology and Internet processes; proactively using these new technologies to combat criminal activity and address vulnerabilities created by the Internet; disseminating investigative leads and intelligence to field offices and international law enforcement partners; and supporting field investigations.
The Cyber Crimes Center has also developed a cybercrime curriculum to train HSI special agents and law enforcement partners in conducting cyber investigations. Classes on subjects including cyber smuggling, undercover and network intrusion investigations will take place at the new C3 beginning in early 2016. C3 is already using the new space to provide training in advanced software applications for victim identification in support of child sexual exploitation investigations.
C3 delivers computer and cyber-based technical services in support of HSI cases – including investigations into underground online marketplaces selling illegal drugs, weapons and other contraband; the trading of images of child pornography; and the theft of intellectual property.
Recent examples of the types of cases investigated and supported by C3 include the takedown of underground online marketplaces like Silk Road and Black Market Reloaded, cyber theft and piracy of the Hollywood movie The Expendables 3 and the dismantling of one of the largest child pornography websites on the dark net with more than 27,000 subscribers, as part of Operation Round Table.