WASHINGTON (1/11/16)--Suspicious activity reports (SARs) and other Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) data help law enforcement track malicious cyber activity, but less than 2% of SARs contain a piece of valuable information that can help, an internet protocol (IP) address. According to the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), including the IP address of suspicious activity in SARs can help the agency track suspicious activity.
An IP address is a numerical label assigned to each device accessing the internet. It can provide information about the network the device is using to access the internet, as well as the location of the device and network.
FinCEN director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said last month that the agency receives 55,000 BSA reports each day from more than 80,000 financial institutions and 500,000 individual foreign account holders. More than 9,000 law enforcement agencies make approximately 30,000 searches per day of this information.
According to FinCEN, new technology and e-filing has decreased law enforcement’s data search time for a specific inquiry to two days, down from more than two weeks.
SAR data was recently used to help the FBI identify a group based in Russia and Ukraine that was using malicious software against U.S. individuals and companies. Calvery said that SARs helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation identify one co-conspirator that eventually led to the discovery of the group.
According to FinCEN, technological advances allow it to identify information that may not be obvious to other agencies and take fairly undeveloped SAR information, compare it to other materials and develop well-founded leads or pieces of intelligence that can assist law enforcement activities worldwide.
FinCEN is legally constrained from sharing certain SAR information wit credit unions, such as consumer account information, the agency is currently exploring ways to share cyberthreat information derived from BSA reports with financial institutions in an effort to prevent and guard against cyberattacks.