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Department of Justice Launches New Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative

Cybersecurity efforts

Department of Justice Launches New Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Wednesday led the launch of the Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, which will harness the Department of Justice’s expertise in civil fraud enforcement, government procurement and cybersecurity to combat new and emerging cyber threats. The anti-cyber fraud program was born out of a comprehensive review of government contractors’ adherence to cybersecurity standards ordered by Monaco in May.

The initiative, which will be led by the DOJ Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch’s Fraud Section, will pay special attention to the security of sensitive information and critical systems. The effort will see fraud investigators utilizing the False Claims Act to pursue cybersecurity-related fraud by government contractors and grant recipients.

Monaco said that the DOJ will use its civil enforcement tools to pursue companies that receive federal funds when they fail to follow required cybersecurity standards because they put national security in jeopardy. She added that many government contractors have chosen to conceal the cyber breaches they have experienced under the “mistaken belief that it is less risky to hide them” rather than to come forward and report them.

The initiative will hold accountable entities or individuals that put U.S. information or systems at risk by knowingly providing deficient cybersecurity products or services, knowingly misrepresenting their cybersecurity practices or protocols, or knowingly violating obligations to monitor and report cybersecurity incidents and breaches, the DOJ said Wednesday.

As part of carrying out the initiative, the DOJ added that it will work closely with other federal agencies, subject matter experts and its law enforcement partners throughout the government.

The False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil tool to redress false claims for federal funds and property involving government programs and operations. The law also includes a unique whistleblower provision, which allows private parties to assist the government in identifying and pursuing fraudulent conduct and by doing so, share in any recovery, the DOJ said.

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Category: Cybersecurity