Somewhat flying under the radar and less visible than the FBI and DHS (specifically CISA) in the fight against cyber-crime, you’ll find the Secret Service. They have their own very important place in that genre. For those who might be U.S. history academics or fanatics, you probably already know that the Secret Service was actually started as an anti-counterfeiting unit during the end of the Civil War, due to all of the “funny money” that was floating around.

Secret Service under Treasury

However, it was not until later, that the agency became part of the Department of the Treasury, and even later still, around the turn of the 20th century, they started to provide protection for presidents. That mission grew to protection of vice presidents, families of presidents and vice presidents, retired presidents and vice presidents, candidates and spouses of presidential candidates, families of all of those, and other high-ranking members of both the United States and foreign governments.

Moving to DHS

However, the role the Secret Service had as counterfeit police grew as well. In 1984, the agency was charged with investigating credit and debit card fraud and federal interest computer fraud. In 1996, that role expanded to investigation offenses in which fictitious financial instruments (not just currency) purporting to be those of the United States, foreign governments, states or other political subdivisions were used. Investigating identity theft cases and telemarketing fraud were also added to the list of agency responsibilities. In 2003, the Secret Service was moved to the Department of Homeland Security. The Secret Service has separate offices of Protective Operations, Investigations and Strategic Intelligence. The cyber investigation units are key players in domestic and international cyber task forces and other interagency operations relating to transnational financial crime.

Spotlight on Law Enforcement

Recently with the high amount of cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering events taking place, the Secret Service has been more in the spotlight for their law enforcement role than ever before. Often they work in conjunction with other federal and state law enforcement agencies.

A curious look at the Secret Service most wanted fugitive list shows many different faces than that of the FBI’s webpage.  Of the top fifteen fugitives listed, a breakdown looks like this:

  • All are male
  • Six are from Ukraine
  • Five are from Russia
  • The cases range from 2005 to present that they are allegedly involved with.
  • The youngest is 30 years old, but almost all are in the 30-40 range, which given the varied start times of each individual means many began their career in crime at a really young age.
  • Two of the Ukrainians have a $1 million reward associated with their capture.
  • Almost all of them targeted financial institutions, payment processing systems, and securities companies and had very elaborate hacking/criminal enterprise schemes

The point of the above metrics (besides that I like case studies) is that the Secret Service is involved with some very high level investigations into cybercrime that span multiple countries. Around 20% of their workforce are veterans. If you have an interest in cybersecurity and already have a clearance, this may be a career or at least a place on your journey worth looking at.

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Joe Jabara, JD, is the Director, of the Hub, For Cyber Education and Awareness, Wichita State University. He also serves as an adjunct faculty at two other universities teaching Intelligence and Cyber Law. Prior to his current job, he served 30 years in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Kansas Air National Guard. His last ten years were spent in command/leadership positions, the bulk of which were at the 184th Intelligence Wing as Vice Commander.