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FBI: Cybersecurity is top priority

Further organisational changes announced by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) included honing its focus on combating computer-related crimes, said the federal agency.

In a top ten list of priorities, FBI director Robert Mueller pegged cybercrime prevention as its third-most important priority behind battling terrorism and espionage, a spokesman for the FBI said.

Mueller also pledged to upgrade technology used by the FBI in order to help it better perform its duties. He said the FBI's new counterterrorism division would work to improve its use of new technology by expanding its use of data mining and computer analysis.

The FBI has undergone several changes in response to the 11 September terrorist attacks, including moves to improve its technology prowess.

The agency created a cyber division in December, combining two previous groups that focused on intellectual property and crimes related to computers, the Internet and networks. In April, the FBI named the head of its San Francisco field office, Larry Mefford, the assistant director of the cyber division.

Still, the agency has been criticised by watchdog groups over, among other things, methods it uses to gather information.

This week, advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) released an FBI document it had obtained through the Freedom of Information Act which detailed a technical glitch in the Carnivore e-mail surveillance system. EPIC said the glitch may have hampered the FBI's investigations into terrorist activities.

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