US Attorney General opens Hammond summit on cyber security

June 9, 2011

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(WBEZ/Michael Puente)
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks about cyber threats in Hammond, IN. on Thursday.

Cyber threats are developing domestically and from overseas.

Not only can hackers steel credit card information and ruin someone’s financial life, they can also play havoc with the stability of governments, including the United States.

“The staggering volume of money that is being stolen online every day has the potential to threaten not only the security of our nation, but the integrity of our government, the stability of our economy and, ultimately, the safety of the American people,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday morning.

Holder was the keynote speaker at the Northwest Indiana Cyber Security Summit at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Hammond, Indiana.
Holder said the threat is real, which is why he’s made fighting cyber threats a top priority for the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Many of the 21st century threats that we face have no precedent. They know no boarders,” Holder said. “They demand not only constant attention, but also a comprehensive, collaborative and well-coordinated response, one that’s nimble enough to fight complex and constantly evolving transnational threats.”

Holder praised the collaborative efforts of local law enforcement, the FBI field office and Indiana State Police to combat cyber threats.

“Today’s summit is an affirmation and vindication of this collaborative approach that you all have helped to pioneer,” Holder said. “With this gathering, I think that we send a strong and unmistakable message that a new era of private and public cooperation, engagement and vigilance has begun. Here in Northern Indiana, you were a head of your time. … The steps that you’ve taken to keep pace with emerging challenges, is nothing short of remarkable.”  

Michael Welch, who heads the FBI’s Field Office in Indianapolis, said one way to make a dent in cyber crime is for law enforcement to work directly with local businesses.

“The ability for groups, particularly those that are well-funded, to attack our critical infrastructures here such as banks, water filtration plants, sewage, electrical grid, is more and more a real threat,” Welch said. “We want to prepare ourselves from not only from the United States government standpoint, but also from the private sector. Here, we’re on the cutting edge of developing partnerships with the private sector.”

David Capp, U.S. Attorney for Northern Indiana, welcomed Holder “back” to Hammond and mentioned Holder’s stint here as a young deputy federal prosecutor.

Capp told summit-goers that Holder tried his first two jury trials at the Hammond’s old federal courthouse, just three blocks away from the summit location.

“It’s always great to be back in Hammond. I haven’t been here for a while,” Holder said. “What Dave failed to mentioned is that I ended up losing that trial. I had another trial that I did win. So I was one for two here in Hammond.”

Holder also spoke about his time working with the late U.S. District Judge Phil McNagny Jr., who presided in Hammond from 1976 to 1981.

“He was a great judge to a young lawyer. He was a wonderful human being. He was very kind to me as I stumbled around the courthouse during my first trial,” Holder said.