Although the Secret Service’s most well known job is the task of protecting the President, they still focus on their original mandate investigating counterfeit currency crime. Last Thursday, Secret Service director Mark Sullivan testified before a House Appropriations hearing about the status of counterfeiting and protective detail and their newest budget requests. Sullivan and his agency are asking for a decrease in budget.
One area that they are not pairing back their budget is in their IT infrastructure. Sullivan, in 2007 request a top to bottom It infrastructure review. The report showed a system state of the art in 1980 and not adequate for the current year. Representative David Price (D-NC), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security asked “Why have they allowed it to become so outdated?”
Government systems are some of the IT systems most targeted for cyber attacks. Sullivan has proposed a 5-year plan to rebuild and update the infrastructure including many of the areas highlight in the 2007 report. Sullivan requested $48.6 million to upgrade the secret service IT systems.
“Year after year we allow for a full budget request to be passed, a budget that should allow for system recapitalization,” said Rep. Price. During the meeting, Sullivan also spoke about the increases in operational tempo. In his testimony, he also talked considerably about cyber crime. 1,200 Secret Service agents are trained in advanced finance systems technologies to better work with cyber crime and counterfeit currency crime. Sullivan and the committee acknowledged the growing link between money crime and cyber crime.
The Secret Service has had two successful financial crime operations, both identify theft cases where data intrusions allowed criminals to enter financial markets and take the identity and credit card numbers of thousands of individuals. One case, the Hartland Payment System, 103 credit card numbers were stolen in a transnational crime with a potential of billions in stolen assets.
Sullivan believes that much of their success in cyber crime is due to their extensive and growing foreign offices and bureaus. For the whole hearing, click here.