Justice Launches Cyber Task Force

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Jose Luis Magana/AP

The task force will examine cyber efforts to undermine elections and critical infrastructure.

The Justice Department is launching a new task force to examine ways it can better protect the nation from cybersecurity threats, including efforts to interfere in future U.S. elections, according to a Tuesday memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The task force will deliver a report to Sessions by the end of June outlining “ways that the department is combating the global cyber threat” and “how federal law enforcement can more effectively accomplish its mission in this vital and evolving area,” according to a press release.

The move comes after attacks from congressional Democrats that the Trump administration has not done enough to hold Russia accountable for its digital meddling in the 2016 election.

“The internet has transformed our lives,” Sessions said in the memo. “We must ensure that internet-based technologies remain sources of enrichment rather than becoming forces of destruction and vectors of chaos.”

In addition to election security, the task force will focus on digital efforts to interfere with critical infrastructure, such as airports, dams and energy plants, and terrorist recruiting online, according to the memo.

Other focus areas include digital theft of corporate, government and private information and the mass exploitation of computers and connected devices in botnets.

The task force will also examine “the use of technology to avoid or frustrate law enforcement,” the memo states. That likely refers to encrypted communication systems, which FBI Director Christopher Wray has said allow criminals and terrorist to plan operations outside the view of law enforcement.

The task force will be led by a senior agency official and include representatives from Justice’s national security and criminal divisions. It will also include representatives from U.S. attorney’s offices and from Justice divisions including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.