Transnational Organized Crime: A Growing Threat to National and International Security
Transnational organized crime (TOC) poses a significant and growing threat to national and international security, with dire implications for public safety, public health, democratic institutions, and economic stability across the globe.
Not only are criminal networks expanding, but they also are diversifying their activities, resulting in the convergence of threats that were once distinct and today have explosive and destabilizing effects.
This Strategy organizes the United States to combat TOC networks that pose a strategic threat to Americans and to U.S. interests in key regions.
Cybercrime: TOC networks are increasingly involved in cybercrime, which costs consumers billions of dollars annually, threatens sensitive corporate and government computer networks, and undermines worldwide confidence in the international financial system.
Through cybercrime, transnational criminal organizations pose a significant threat to financial and trust systems—banking, stock markets, e-currency, and value and credit card services—on which the world economy depends. For example, some estimates indicate that online frauds perpetrated by Central European cybercrime networks have defrauded U.S. citizens or entities of approximately $1 billion in a single year.
According to the U.S. Secret Service, which investigates cybercrimes through its 31 Electronic Crimes Task Forces, financial crimes facilitated by anonymous online criminals result in billions of dollars in losses to the Nation’s financial infrastructure.
The National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), functions as a domestic focal point for 18 federal departments or agencies to coordinate, integrate, and share information related to cyber threat investigations, as well as make the Internet safer by pursuing terrorists, spies, and criminals who seek to exploit U.S. systems.
Pervasive criminal activity in cyberspace not only directly affects its victims, but can imperil citizens’ and businesses’ faith in these digital systems, which are critical to our society and economy. Computers and the Internet play a role in most transnational crimes today, either as the target or the weapon used in the crime.
The use of the Internet, personal computers, and mobile devices all create a trail of digital evidence. Often the proper investigation of this evidence trail requires highly trained personnel. Crimes can occur more quickly, but investigations proceed more slowly due to the critical shortage of investigators with the knowledge and expertise to analyze ever increasing amounts of potential digital evidence.
Intellectual Property Theft: TOC networks are engaged in the theft of critical U.S. intellectual property, including through intrusions into corporate and proprietary computer networks. Theft of intellectual property ranges from movies, music, and video games to imitations of popular and trusted brand names, to proprietary designs of high-tech devices and manufacturing processes.
This intellectual property theft causes significant business losses, erodes U.S. competitiveness in the world marketplace, and in many cases threatens public health and safety.
Between FY 2003 and FY 2010, the yearly domestic value of customs seizures at U.S. port and mail facilities related to intellectual property right (IPR) violations leaped from $94 million to $188 million. Products originating in China accounted for 66% of these IPR seizures in FY 2010.
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