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Justice adds muscle to fight against economic cyberspies

Richard A. Serrano McClatchy-Tribune

WASHINGTON – With cybercrime taking on new urgency, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday new efforts to combat economic spies who hack into U.S. companies’ computer systems, including installing a cyberspecialist in each of the 93 U.S. attorneys’ offices around the nation.

“The threat landscape we face is ever-changing and evolving,” said John P. Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security. “While our top priority will always be combating terrorism, we must also sharpen our focus and increase our attention on the emerging threats of economic espionage and proliferation.”

The announcement comes after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and FBI Director James Comey have repeatedly warned that cybercrime poses one of the gravest threats to the U.S.

It also comes as officials at Staples said Tuesday that they and federal law enforcement officials are investigating “a potential issue” dealing with the theft of customers’ credit card data. Other large U.S. companies that have been targeted include Home Depot and JP Morgan Chase, as well as other banks and institutions.

Carlin announced that three top Justice officials will make up a new leadership team to manage federal prosecutions, making sure that various law enforcement agencies – including the FBI – work together to fight the emerging threat.

Mary B. McCord, a 20-year prosecutor who has run the criminal division in Washington, will become a principal deputy assistant attorney general in the national security division. Anita M. Singh, who has worked on intelligence and cyberissues for the White House and the National Security Council, will be chief of staff and counselor in the division. Luke Dembosky, a longtime international crime prosecutor, will become a deputy assistant attorney general.

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