FBI, Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Center Declare Cyber-Attacks Bigger Threat than Terrorism
Cyber-attacks, not terrorist ones, will be the greater threat in the coming years to the United States, according to federal officials at three agencies charged with protecting the nation.
At a recent hearing of the Senate homeland security and government affairs committee, the heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) told lawmakers that cyber-attacks were likely to surpass terrorism as a domestic danger over the next decade.
“That’s where the bad guys will go,” FBI Director James Comey said. “There are no safe neighborhoods. All of us are neighbors [online].”
Comey, along with Rand Beers, DHS’ acting secretary, urged Congress to pass new cyber-security legislation that would expand government access to private-sector data in order to address vulnerabilities in business and other non-governmental networks.
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the committee’s top Republican member, questioned whether the proposed plan should be mandatory, preferring instead to allow companies to voluntarily turn over their data to the government.
Coburn added that such legislation should include legal protections for companies compelled to disclose proprietary or customer data. Beers amended that advice by saying such a proposed law should be “carefully crafted” to avoid “a total blanket liability protection” that could potentially violate civil liberties.
The three testifying officials—who included NCTC director Matthew Olsen—agreed that the threat of a terrorist attack in the U.S. is diminished, but that the U.S. must keep its guard up against an ever-dangerous al-Qaeda as well as domestic, self-radicalized “lone wolves.”
To Learn More:
Cyber-Attacks Eclipsing Terrorism as Gravest Domestic Threat – FBI (by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian)
Threats to the Homeland (Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs)
More Secret Powers for the President…This Time, It’s Cyberwarfare (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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