The Department of Justice has placed a cyber prosecutor in Malaysia in an effort to strengthen relationships and encourage the development of stronger cybercrime laws in Southeast Asia. It's the first cyber prosecutor the agency has placed overseas, with more expected to follow.

"I am announcing that the Criminal Division has placed a cyber prosecutor overseas for the first time in order to combat cybercrime in Southeast Asia on a full-time basis," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a speech at the Roger Williams University Law School on Friday.

"A CCIPS [Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section] prosecutor is stationed in Malaysia and has been tasked with working with our foreign counterparts to facilitate information sharing, improve cooperation in cyber investigations and build lasting relationships there as well as in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. We hope to dispatch more of these international cyber prosecutors in the future," Caldwell added.

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The action is part of a growing effort to defend against international cybercrime. In the past year, Caldwell noted, the U.S. has extradited hackers from Iran, Estonia, Latvia, Macedonia, Romania, Ukraine and Vietnam. Less than a dozen, she said, were "responsible for the worldwide theft of hundreds of millions of dollars."

The U.S. has also been seeking to strengthen relations with other countries in South Asia in order to defend against China, which is responsible for most of the cyberattacks perpetrated against its Asian neighbors and around the world. The U.S. move to strengthen ties with Malaysia indicates a continuance of that trend.

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