Cyber threat growing at unprecedented rate, intell chief says

Director of national intelligence details intell agencies' assessment of cyber threat

Malicious cyber activity is growing at an unprecedented rate, severely threatening the nation's public and private information infrastructure, the government's top intelligence official said today.

Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, told members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee,that “in the dynamic of cyberspace, the technology balance right now favors malicious actors rather than legal actors, and is likely to continue that way for quite some time.”

Sensitive information is stolen daily from government and private-sector networks and intelligence officials often find persistent, unauthorized, and sometimes unattributable presences on exploited networks, Blair said in prepared remarks about intelligence agencies' annual threat assessment.

“We cannot be certain that our cyberspace infrastructure will remain available and reliable during a time of crisis,” he testified.


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Meanwhile, Blair said cyber criminals have “displayed remarkable technical innovation with an agility presently exceeding the response capability of network defenders.” He added network convergence and channel consolidation potentially increases vulnerabilities and consequences of failure in security.

Blair said intelligence agencies are integrating cybersecurity with counterintelligence and bolstering the ability to understand, detect, attribute and counter cyber threats. Blair said he directed the creation of a cyber directorate to provide outreach for foreign intelligence threat warnings and ensure that insider threats are stopped.

Blair said threats come from nation states, terrorist networks, organizational criminal groups, and individuals. He also said cooperation with industry and international partners is necessary for cybersecurity.

“I am here today to stress that, acting independently, neither the U.S. government nor the private sector can fully control or protect the country’s information infrastructure,” Blair testified. “Yet, with increased national attention and investment in cyber security initiatives, I am confident the United States can implement measures to mitigate this negative situation.”

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

Reader comments

Thu, Jun 30, 2011 John USA

Unless you have access to that as used for Signals and Image processing, you have no recourse against Wireless streaming of information {Cyber espionage}.
You people tout Cyber security, having lack knowledge as to the EMS and its use thereof at expense to Personal/ Public/ Business/ E Commerce/ US Cyber, Network security/ Homeland security the US war on terrorism {Cyber terrorism by use RDD,s Facilitated by space based platforms}.
The I.T. industry is way behind the times {Q computing}.
Facilitating Cyber espionage/ Cyber terrorism are those in laswenforcement proven to conduct Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States by the Falsification of investigations, E Discoveries/ Statements/ Filing false instruments. Former Blair- has overseen export of Acts espionage/ Acts terrorism by wireless from the UK as an Intl criminal at Public expense

Thu, Feb 25, 2010

Its a severe risk, but not impossible to solve with the correct attention. the basic concept, get secure and vital systems off the common internet threads either physically or via secure hardware encryption. Sorry but there is no reason the power company or bank to bank links need to be accessible to the public. The implementation may be difficult and costly on large scale. But like the days gone by, if you didnt plug you phone line into the computer nobody could put a virus on or hack your system without physically accessing it.

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 JD CA

Always fun to talk tough about China and their increasingly brazen cyber attacks; but like it or not, they already "own" us. For you "Trek" fans, China are the Borg and we the emotionally delicate Federation. In the U.S. we reward ($$) financiers, litigious lawyers and the politically-connected; i.e., those who don't design, build, or fix ANYTHING. China on the other hand has an ARMY of well funded/equipped tech-savvy cyber experts. China is eating our lunch!

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 Ocrates Austin, TX

@M - your comments are blinded by political perspectives. This is exactly why we are losing the cyberwars, because some people would rather divide the country for political "talking points" rather than do anything in defense of the nation as a whole. You need to remember your education and recall Aesop's words: "United we stand, divided we fall." (he was the first author of that phrase - so often used by others thereafter). If people are willing to work together - we cannot be defeated. When people are contrarians and don't care about their nation, just their petty ideology - then we are doomed to fail. Your answer seems to point to a desire for this nation to fail? Congratulations, you've shown us that you care more about politics than the nation! At least you're free to say that, just as I am free to say thanks to the first amendment, no one stops you from showing us how you really feel about the country. Have a nice day.

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 Jeffrey A. Williams Frisco Texas

Adm. Blair is exactly correct in his assesment. However the cybersecurity threat has been known for a number of years and articulated voluminously to government officials and LEA's sense Richard Clark first testified befor both houses of congress. He was subsequently scoffed at than and soon after resinged in than held position with the previous administration. Much was lost and is continuing to be lost as a result.

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