Three top cybersecurity officials are reportedly leaving the FBI

Key Points
  • The WSJ says three senior cybersecurity officials are leaving the FBI.
  • The revelations came the same day Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discussed how the FBI is ramping up outreach to state elections boards and the private sector in an effort to combat cybercrime.
  • The DOJ stressed the importance of having corporations liaise with FBI cyber officials in order to help keep tabs on cybercrime.
Scott Smith, assistant director of the FBI's Investigation Cyber Division, testifies during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on cyber-attack defense on October 19, 2017. 
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

Three top cybersecurity officials at the FBI are stepping down, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The departures come at a particularly sensitive time for cybersecurity concerns in the U.S. as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russian interference in the 2016 election and top intelligence officials warn of continued Kremlin attempts to attack the American election system.

The Journal reported that David Resch, a cybersecurity head in the agency’s division that handles investigating financial crime and organized crime; Scott Smith, assistant FBI director and head of the Bureau’s cyber division; and Smith’s deputy, Howard Marshall, have either already departed or will leave within the month.

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Carl Ghattas and Jeffrey Tricoli, senior agents responsible for national security investigations including elections security, departed the bureau earlier this year, the Journal has also reported.

The moves are a contrast to yesterday’s Justice Department press conference, where Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a frequent target of congressional Republicans critical of the special counsel's probe, discussed wide-ranging cyber-initiatives spearheaded by the FBI. Rosenstein oversees Mueller's investigation.

According to Rosenstein’s report, the FBI is trying to increase outreach to private companies, work with social media firms to tamp down foreign influence campaigns and address security problems in elections infrastructure, among several pressing initiatives.

The FBI didn't immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment about the cybersecurity officials' departures.

Read the full WSJ report here.