In a Candid Conversation, FBI Director James Comey Talks About the “Evil Layer Cake” of Cybersecurity Threats (Part One of Two)

In a wide-ranging and frank conversation with WilmerHale partner Ben Powell at the annual Georgetown Cybersecurity Law Institute, FBI Director James Comey likened the cybersecurity dangers the country faces to an “evil layer cake” and called general counsels (including himself in his former role) “obstructionist weenies.”  This article, the first part of the CSLR’s two-part series, covers Comey’s remarks about: how the FBI has adapted its techniques in the face of cyber threats; the FBI’s relationship with local law enforcement agencies and the private sector; his concerns about the encryption of data; and how the FBI has expanded its information-sharing programs with the private sector.  In the second part, we will cover Comey’s views on: the role of the FBI in relation to other law enforcement agencies; international cybersecurity developments; international cooperation in a post-Snowden world; misperceptions about the FBI that he hears from the private sector; information-sharing legislation; and how the FBI competes with the private sector for talent.  See also “After a Cyber Breach, What Laws Are in Play and Who Is Enforcing Them?,” Cybersecurity Law Report, Vol. 1, No. 4 (May 20, 2015).

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