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Hacking Focus to Grow as U.S. Prosecutor Urges Disclosure

Companies need to be quicker to disclose they have been victims of cyber-crimes, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, telling defense lawyers the government will focus “more and more” on prosecuting such offenses.

Speaking today at a conference at the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Bharara said law enforcement is hampered when companies delay revealing they are victims of computer crimes, as many “routinely” do.

“They wait and wait, and such delays can be disastrous,” Bharara said. Prosecutors will be more active in fighting cyber-crime, Bharara said.

The U.S. announced in March that it had charged six leaders of an underground hacking movement that targeted the Central Intelligence Agency and Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. Today in Manhattan federal court, accused hacker Jeremy Hammond pleaded not guilty to charges of stealing client information from Austin, Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor.

In his remarks to the bar association, Bharara urged defense lawyers and the companies they represent to play a “more central role” in fighting computer crime, whether it’s by hackers, corporate insiders or foreign groups or nations.

‘Culture of Security’

The prosecutor told the lawyers to help their clients create a “culture of disclosure” and a “culture of security,” and to foster “high-level leadership” that takes these issues seriously.

“We need leadership from the top, not just from the bar,” Bharara said, warning that the hacking threats will probably “proliferate.”

“No one is immune,” he said.

Bharara also urged defense lawyers to serve as the gatekeepers of company ethics by encouraging executives and employees to act honestly.

Public confidence in corporations “continues to ebb,” he said, especially “when a CEO blithely swats away criticism and it turns out matters are far worse” or when executives lie about their experience.

Bharara didn’t cite specific cases.

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