How do you know if the FBI is going to come after you for an innocent little hack?

Documents reveal feds' methods, though not priorites that make FBI's attention unpredictable

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Despite reports showing attacks on military, government and utility companies had increased 40 percent to 50 percent in just the previous year, the Dept. of Justice concluded in April that the FBI's cyber security division doesn't get enough time or funding to train its agents properly and, when it does, has them spend twice as much time on child-porn cases as it does on cybercrime and cyberespionage.

That's a political decision based on the number of citizens screaming about child abuse and child porn compared to security consultants soberly warning about the threat to the national IT infrastructure.

Members of Congress and political appointees in the DoJ and other federal agencies set those priorities, not FBI agents or supervisors in the field – which means the agency's priorities, available resources and determination to lock up one type of criminal vs. another can change in the blink of an eye.

That eye blinked last year, when Anonymous attacked Visa, Mastercard and Paypal following the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Those high-profile attacks and the purposeful provocation of LulzSec's attacks on FBI-affiliate organizations and the U.S. Senate added fuel to increase the heat the FBI was willing to bring to cybercrime and, just as important in political terms, its interest in bragging about its successes.

In January it got and executed 40 warrants simultaneously as part of the investigation into Anonymous DDOS attacks. In July it arrested 14 alleged Anonymous members in connection with the attacks and pointed the finger at two that British police arrested.

And – all in July – it arrested a 21-year-old AT&T employee for posting confidential company documents on a public site, got a conviction for a former pharmaceutical company IT guy for wiping out his former employer's VMware infrastructure and arrested the "neighbor from hell" who hacked into a Minneapolis neighbor's WLAN network.

A year ago it might not have pursued those cases, but definitely wouldn't have been bragging about them.

In the politics of federal bureaucracies, things an agency is willing to brag about, it's willing to spend a lot of budget on to appear successful.

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