The ongoing partial U.S. federal government shutdown is having a tangible, negative impact on cybercrime investigations, according to interviews with federal law enforcement investigators and a report issued this week by a group representing the interests of FBI agents. Even if lawmakers move forward on new proposals to reopen the government, sources say the standoff is likely to have serious repercussions for federal law enforcement agencies for years to come. One federal agent with more than 20 years on the job told KrebsOnSecurity the shutdown “is crushing our ability to take the fight to cyber criminals.” “The talent drain after this is finally resolved will cost us five years,” said the source, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the news media. “Literally everyone I know who is able to retire or can find work in the private sector is actively looking, and the smart private companies are aware and actively recruiting. As a nation, we are much less safe from a cyber security posture than we were a month ago.”
The source said his agency can’t even get agents and analysts the higher clearances needed for sensitive cases because everyone who does the clearance processing is furloughed.
“Investigators who are eligible to retire or who simply wish to walk away from their job aren’t retiring or quitting now because they can’t even be processed out due to furlough of the organization’s human resources people,” the source said. “These are criminal investigations involving national security. It’s also a giant distraction and people aren’t as focused.”
The source’s comments echoed some of the points made in a 72-page report (PDF) released this week by the FBI Agents Association, a group that advocates on behalf of active and retired FBI special agents.