Most wanted: Cyber investigators

Bureau seeks recruits with broad range of skills

Cyber investigators looking at laptop
Once an ad hoc effort, the cyber division now employs more than 1,000 specially trained agents, analysts, and digital forensic examiners.

Asked about the skills the cyber division sought in prospective employees, Gordon Snow notes that information technology credentials are obviously valued. But the cyber division also needs technically savvy employees who understand the languages and cultures of their adversaries and also seeks recruits with science, forensic, and digital communications knowledge and skills in addition to IT, law, and business expertise.

Cyber presence in every office

The FBI, he says, has established cyber squads in each of its 56 field offices around the country, with more than 1,000 specially trained agents, analysts, and digital forensic examiners.

Demand outstrips supply

“Traditionally, the FBI looked for attorneys and accountants, and as our organization has had different needs through time, we’ve looked for different types of personnel.” The current demand for investigators with cyber expertise outstrips the supply of qualified applicants, he says. “We have an additional impediment. We still have very stringent background requirements and testing that everybody has to go through.” As a result, he says, the FBI, like other law enforcement and national security organizations, still needs, to some degree, “to hire from within.”

Division coordinates, supports FBI cyber efforts

An FBI handout notes that before the cyber division was established in 2002, cyber investigations were ad hoc and dispersed among various divisions and programs. The cyber division now manages all investigations on computer intrusions that target the national information infrastructure and Internet-facilitated crime. It also supports FBI priorities across program lines, assisting counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigations requiring technical expertise.

Constantly adapting

In recent testimony before Congress, Snow noted that the FBI is changing to adapt to the ever-evolving technology and schemes used by cyber criminals. “Intelligence now drives operations in the FBI.” Some of the FBI’s best tools, he added, are its long-standing partnerships with federal, state, local, and international law enforcement agencies as well as with the private sector and academe.

Next: Agent bulks up skills with MBA.

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