The Internet is defining technology of the 21st century, and no one knows it better than cybercriminals. Hackers steal billions of dollars and millions of personal data files each year.
The FBI is charged with fighting back, but it is understaffed. A Justice Department watchdog said the bureau is having trouble finding and hiring enough qualified personnel, CBS News’ Jeff Pegues reports.
Among the biggest threats the FBI’s new agents will face are not the ones they will confront on the streets, but the ones online.
In Quantico, Virginia, an old nuclear bunker leads to the bureau’s future – tracing hacks and chasing cybercriminals. In a class, new agents are learning to use digital clues to solve crimes. Some of the recruits will go on to classified classes using sophisticated methods to track down hackers.
Hacking is pervasive. Just this summer, the U.S. government revealed that cyberthieves stole the files of as many as 25 million people from the Office of Personnel Management.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the health care information of up to 11 million people was stolen from Premera Blue Cross. And last year Sony Pictures was hacked and lost sensitive financial documents, film projects, emails and had servers destroyed.
To battle the onslaught, the FBI is looking for recruits who understand how hackers work. Assistant FBI Director James Turgal said his biggest challenge is money.
“When you’re out in the private sector and you’re making really good money out there, it’s hard to leave that, to give all that up, to take a pay cut to come to the FBI,” Turgal said.
One 30-year-old agent, who CBS News agreed not to identify, left a job in computer security, taking a 50 percent pay cut. But for him, there are still many appealing aspects of his job.
“Being able to take down criminals and go after nation-state actors, people who attack the homeland,” he said.
The recruiting push began late last year. By the end of this year, the FBI hopes to graduate hundreds of new cyber-agents.