Monday, March 24, 2008

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott Welcomes New Partner in Fight Against Cyber Crime

TYLER – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today joined local leaders and law enforcement officials for the opening of the Texas Cyber Security Research and Training Institute at the University of Texas at Tyler.

In collaboration with Mississippi State University’s renowned Center for Computer Security Research, the Texas Cyber Security Research and Training Institute will provide data security and technology-based emergency preparedness training to law enforcement personnel. The second-in-the-nation research and training institute will help ensure Texas stays at the forefront of the nation’s battle against cyber crime.

During remarks at the Institute’s inaugural ceremony, Attorney General Abbott described cyber criminals’ increased prevalence and emphasized the importance of cutting edge solutions to technology crimes.

“From the child predators who prey upon children online, to the identity thieves behind cutting-edge botnets and phishing schemes, criminals are using emerging technology to violate the law and harm innocent Texans,” said Attorney General Abbott. “The Texas Cyber Security Research and Training Institute will cultivate technological innovation and foster improved technical expertise within the law enforcement community. Just as we launched a Cyber Crimes Unit to arrest online predators before they harm children, this Institute will develop the tools law enforcement needs to stop the next generation of cyber criminals.”

Smith County Sheriff J.B. Smith, Tyler Mayor Joey Seeber, Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle, University of Texas at Tyler President Rodney Mabry, and College of Education Dean Jim Nelson were among the local dignitaries who participated in the inaugural ceremony.

The UT Tyler initiative includes the Texas First-Responder Cyber Security Training (TxFRST) Program, which will provide basic computer forensics training that is critical to child pornography, identity theft, credit card fraud, and terrorism investigations. TxFRST training will be provided at no cost to law enforcement personnel.

Attorney General Abbott has earned a national reputation for aggressively arresting and prosecuting child predators. In 2003, he launched the Cyber Crimes Unit, which proactively seeks out and arrests child predators who use technology and the Internet to prey upon children. In part, this strategy involves undercover law enforcement officers posing as children on social networking sites and in Internet chat rooms. It also involves detecting, investigating and arresting those who create, share and distribute child pornography.

Since its inception, the Cyber Crimes Unit has arrested nearly 100 child pornographers and predators who use the Internet to prey upon children. Cyber Crimes Unit prosecutors have successfully prosecuted more than 70 child pornographers.

The Cyber Crimes Unit works in coordination and cooperation with public and private entities dedicated to the detection and prevention of online child exploitation, including other Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces across the country, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Houston Area Cyber Crime Task Force.

The Unit receives investigative leads on Internet-based child exploitation known as “cybertips” through the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force network. The Unit's affiliation with other ICAC task forces has provided an excellent network of investigators who specialize in the investigation, prevention and prosecution of child exploitation crimes.

In addition to its investigative duties, the Cyber Crimes Unit has provided training and technical expertise to local police departments and sheriff’s offices. The Cyber Crimes Unit’s training efforts encouraged local agencies to initiate their own cyber crimes enforcement initiatives. TxFRST will complement the Cyber Crimes Unit’s work to improve law enforcement authorities’ technology crimes expertise.

Working to educate parents and children about potential dangers posed by online predators in chat rooms and social networking sites, Attorney General Abbott and the Cyber Crimes Unit have conducted dozens of interactive town hall meetings across the state. Parents, educators, and students who wish to learn more about cyber predators can watch an informative town hall meeting by visiting www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

The Institute is working cooperatively with the Office of the Attorney General, the University of Texas at Tyler Police Department, Tyler Police Department, Smith County Sheriff’s Department and Mississippi State University in the federally-funded venture.