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Cyber Crimes Center


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Cyber Crimes
Cyber Crimes
Cyber Crimes

One of HSI's top priorities is to combat criminal activity conducted on or facilitated by the Internet.

HSI's Cyber Crimes Center (C3) delivers computer-based technical services to support domestic and international investigations into cross-border crime.

C3 comprises the Cyber Crimes Unit, the Child Exploitation Investigations Unit and the Computer Forensics Unit. This state-of-the-art center offers cyber-crime support and training to federal, state, local and international law enforcement agencies. C3 also operates a fully equipped computer forensics laboratory, which specializes in digital evidence recovery, and offers training in computer investigative and forensic skills.

Cyber Crimes Unit

C3's Cyber Crimes Unit provides the management and oversight of the agency's cyber related investigations by focusing on the transnational criminal organizations that use cyber capabilities to further their criminal enterprise.

This unit enhances HSI’s ability to combat criminal enterprises operating on or through the Internet, with specific focus in the areas of:

  • Cyber Economic Crime;
  • Digital Theft of Intellectual Property;
  • Illicit e-commerce (including hidden marketplaces);
  • Internet-facilitated proliferation of arms and strategic technology; and
  • Cyber-enabled smuggling and money laundering.

This unit also provides training and technical support in cyber investigations to Federal, State, local, tribal, military, and foreign law enforcement agency personnel engaged in the investigation of crimes within their respective jurisdictions.  Additionally, this unit participates in research and development in the area of cyber investigations.

Child Exploitation Investigations Unit

C3's Child Exploitation Investigations Unit (CEIU) is a powerful tool in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children; the production, advertisement and distribution of child pornography; and child sex tourism.

This unit uses sophisticated investigative techniques to target violators who operate on the Internet, including the use of websites, email, chat rooms and file-sharing applications.
Major initiatives include the following:

  • Operation Angel Watch: In support of HSI’s mission to combat Child Sex Tourism, the CEIU developed Operation Angel Watch, a joint effort with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Marshalls Service (USMS), that proactively identifies U.S. persons traveling abroad who have been convicted of a sexual crime against a child.  The CEIU, CBP and the USMS identify and alert foreign law enforcement, through HSI attaché offices or CBP joint partnerships, of offenders pending arrival to their country.
  • iGuardian Program: HSI has launched an educational outreach program called Project iGuardian, in conjunction with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children's NetSmartz and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Forces. Project iGuardian aims to educate kids, teens and parents about online safety and how to stay safe from online sexual predators. HSI recognizes the importance of education and community awareness regarding the dangers of online activity.
  • Operation Predator: HSI's flagship investigative initiative for targeting sexual predators, child pornographers and child sex tourists. In fiscal year 2015, HSI arrested more than 2,400 individuals for child sexual exploitation violations.
  • The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT): An international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private-sector partners working together to fight online child sexual exploitation and abuse. HSI is a founding member and current chair of the VGT.
  • The National Child Victim Identification System (NCVIS): This system was developed to assist law enforcement agencies in identifying victims of child sexual exploitation.
  • Victim Identification Program (VIP): The use of technological and investigative capabilities and resources to rescue child victims of sexual exploitation. The VIP focuses on identifying and rescuing children who have been depicted in child abuse material. In fiscal year 2015, HSI identified 1,004 victims of child sexual exploitation.

In addition, ICE has partnered with other agencies (including the ICAC Task Forces), foreign law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organizations (such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children). These partnerships have enabled C3 to successfully investigate leads and assist in identifying violators and associates all over the world.

Computer Forensics Unit

As the use of computers and digital devices has exploded, along with the growing pervasiveness of network intrusion and malware type incidents, C3's Computer Forensics Unit grows to address the ever-changing investigative challenges of a digital world. These devices have greatly increased the volume of data that HSI special agents must examine during the course of an investigation.  In addition, HSI investigators must now manage digital evidence that is highly volatile, mobile and subject to encryption. This makes recovery and stewardship of evidence challenging.

HSI computer forensics agents/analysts (CFAs) are trained to perform forensic examinations of seized digital storage devices and media, such as: computer hard drives, flash drives, PDAs, mobile phones, DVDs, CDs, tablets and tape media. CFAs use all available digital evidence recovery techniques to preserve an item's authenticity and integrity while maintaining a strict chain of custody.

CFAs are located in HSI offices throughout the world to provide case agents with expertise on investigative strategies and to assist with the targeting digital evidence. They are also called upon to furnish expert computer forensic testimony in criminal trials, and to provide support to state and local law enforcement.

In April 2013, HSI entered into a partnership with the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the National Association to Protect Children (PROTECT) to launch the Human Exploitation Rescue Operative (HERO) Child Rescue Corps program for wounded, ill or injured military personnel. The 12-month HERO program is designed to train, equip and embed HERO participants into computer forensic intern positions in HSI offices around the country. In May 2015, President Barack Obama signed the HERO Act into law, thereby officially recognizing the HERO program, and further codifying C3. Visit www.ice.gov/hero for further information.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/29/2017