“The FBI has definitely decided to be more aggressive,” said Elvis Chan, the assistant special agent in charge of cyber investigations in the FBI’s San Francisco field office, in an interview. “Our toolkit hasn’t changed. We’re just using the tools a little bit more.”
Other examples of the FBI’s feistier posture include a joint FBI-National Security Agency operation to disrupt a Russian cyber-espionage campaign, and the FBI’s recent successful claw back of cryptocurrency paid to hackers after the Colonial Pipeline Co. ransomware attack.
Eight months removed from the election, the government’s emboldened approach has surfaced publicly after a rash of devastating hacks -- including the Colonial Pipeline breach and a ransomware attack against meatpacking giant JBS SA -- exposed glaring security gaps in vital U.S. industries. It also reflects a growing acknowledgment that previous efforts to thwart cyberattacks, including criminal indictments and sanctions, have done little to slow the onslaught.
The effort isn’t confined to the FBI but is rather a “whole of government” priority, said Anne Neuberger, deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technologies, in an interview with Bloomberg.