President Obama’s administration and Intelligence officials state that, in conjunction with the concerns about North Korea terrorism, U.S. officials have ranked cyber-attacks amidst the top of the list for serious threats that Americans are now faced with.
During the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, the (FBI), U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation Director, Robert Mueller and retired Air Force General, James Clapper were among other officials that stated that one of the top US threats was cyber-attacks.
Per Clapper, thus far he has not come across a “more diverse array of threats and challenges” facing the US National Security while he was serving under the intelligence and defense agencies. Clapper proceeded to detail the threats that the US could potentially face with these cyber-attacks.
Clapper added, “I cannot overemphasize its significance,”……… “Increasingly, state and non-state actors are gaining and using cyber expertise. These capabilities put all sectors of our country at risk, from government and private networks to critical infrastructures.”
Clapper also stated that ‘Intelligence agencies see interest from terrorist organizations in acquiring offensive cyber capabilities… Cybercriminals are using black markets to sell hacking tools to a number of organizations’
Mueller said that the threat that concerns him the most was that of what Clapper stated – cyber-attacks. Mueller stated that the cyber-attacks are investigated by the FBI where criminal or terrorist activity is involved and that groups led by terrorist continually utilize the internet and websites to seek out new followers.
A Republican from Indiana, Sen. Dan Coates (committee member) sought the advise of congress to review a bill detailing shared information concerning cyber-threats amongst government businesses and private businesses. President Obama recently signed an order that makes information sharing among business owners; however, Coats stated that businesses will need added protection for unwarranted lawsuits prior to sharing such information. Per Coats, “This is a serious threat, and we need to get on it,”
California Democrat and committee chairman, Senator Dianne Feinstein said that she would like to announce the sharing of information as soon as possible.
Last February, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act and the controversial information-sharing bill, was recently introduced by two of the members from the House of Representatives.
Although we are seeing signs of a diminishing act of physical terrorism against the U.S, cyber-attack threats along with cyber-espionage are growing at a steady pace, Feinstein said.
Throughout the hearing, Clapper questioned concerns in reference to the budget cuts called sequestration that are being forced under the congressional process. Intelligence and Defense agencies alike are being forced to eliminate budgetary funds from each program by as much as 7% for the fiscal year. Unfortunately, those budget cuts will limit the agencies’ capability to obtain the technology and equipment needed to compete with cyber-attacks, he said. The budget cuts will also upset national security in numerous ways, he said.
Oregon Democrat, Senator Ron Wyden, quizzed Mueller and Clapper about the intelligence observations of American citizens within the U.S.
Pushed by Wyden, Clapper alleged that the U.S National Security Agency and the CIA refrain from conducting scrutiny on U.S. citizens within the country.
Per Mueller, the FBI needs a warrant that is court ordered and requires law enforcement officials to determine probable cause of a crime, and / or has a lessor standard to conduct investigation on U.S. residents. Mueller said. It would be dependent upon the situation.
Wyden said. “You have identified the exact reason why I am trying to get the answer,” “There’s no doubt we are going to watch what the courts do in the days ahead. The question is what would be the rights of Americans while that is still being fleshed out?”