IC warns that U.S. adversaries are ramping up cyber attacks
- By Justin Katz
- Apr 13, 2021
In its first publicly available worldwide threat assessment report since 2019, the intelligence community is warning that the United States’ adversaries are increasingly using cyberspace to attack the country and that activities of foreign militaries will be more likely to impact civilian society.
“States’ increasing use of cyber operations as a tool of national power, including increasing use by militaries around the world, raises the prospect of more destructive and disruptive cyber activity,” according to the new report released on Tuesday. As states attempt more aggressive cyber operations, they are more likely to affect civilian populations and to embolden other states that seek similar outcomes.”
The report’s publication, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, comes one day before the heads of ODNI, FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency are scheduled to testify to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about their findings in both open and closed hearings.
The report and associated hearings with lawmakers in recent years have historically been closed as a result of lobbying by the intelligence community.
The IC’s assessment notes the hacking campaign against SolarWinds Orion and describes it as a demonstration that Russia has the “capability and intent to target and potentially disrupt public and private organizations in the United States.”
The assessment also says China poses “a prolific and effective cyber-espionage threat” and possesses “substantial cyber-attack capabilities.”
“China’s cyber pursuits and proliferation of related technologies increase the threats of cyber attacks against the US homeland, suppression of US web content that Beijing views as threatening to its internal ideological control, and the expansion of technology-driven authoritarianism around the world,” according to the IC.
Iran is increasingly conducting influence operations in cyberspace and will likely continue to do so by spreading disinformation online about U.S. elections, according to the report.
The IC’s assessment notes North Korea has committed crimes against financial institutions and cryptocurrency fraud, likely to fund government programs “such as its nuclear and missile programs.”
North Korea “probably possesses the expertise to cause temporary, limited disruptions of some critical infrastructure networks and disrupt business” in the U.S., according to the report.
Justin Katz covers cybersecurity for FCW. Previously he covered the Navy and Marine Corps for Inside Defense, focusing on weapons, vehicle acquisition and congressional oversight of the Pentagon. Prior to reporting for Inside Defense, Katz covered community news in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. Connect with him on Twitter at @JustinSKatz.