On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice would create a “Cyber-Digital Task Force” designed to investigate and identify ongoing global cybersecurity threats. According to a press release issued by the Justice Department, the proposed task force would prioritize its efforts on specific areas of cybersecurity risk, including efforts to interfere with U.S. elections, theft of corporate, governmental, and private information, and the mass exploitation of computers and other digital devices to attack U.S. citizens and domestic businesses. The task force would be chaired by a senior official of the Justice Department appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and would also include representatives from the Department’s Criminal Division, the National Security Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In ordering the task force, the Attorney General explained that the “Internet has given us amazing new tools that help us work, communicate, and participate in our economy, but these tools can also be exploited by criminals, terrorists, and enemy governments.” Sessions added that due to the serious nature of these threats, the purpose of the task force would be to aid the Department to “confront these threats and keep the American people safe.” Sessions also ordered the task force to provide an initial report describing the Department’s cyber-related activities and offering initial recommendations by no later than the end of June 2018.
While the creation of the task force can be viewed in light of the ongoing Mueller investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the Department has not specifically limited the scope of the task force to just election interference. The extent to which the task force also investigates cybersecurity risks to corporate and private information will be of additional interest and may indicate how the Department plans to investigate and prosecute such threats going forward.
The Justice Department’s press release can be found here.