NSA Nominee Confirms Ukraine Is Under Cyberattack

Michael Rogers warns the U.S. is also vulnerable.

National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
Brendan Sasso
March 11, 2014, 10:54 a.m.

A top U.S. mil­it­ary of­fi­cial said Tues­day he be­lieves hack­ers are at­tack­ing Ukrain­i­an com­puter and com­mu­nic­a­tions net­works — but he de­clined to point the fin­ger at Rus­sia.

“In an open un­clas­si­fied for­um, I’m not pre­pared to com­ment on the spe­cif­ics of na­tion-state be­ha­vi­or,” Vice Adm. Mi­chael Ro­gers told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee when asked wheth­er Rus­sia is us­ing cy­ber­at­tacks against Ukraine. Ro­gers cur­rently runs the Navy’s cy­ber unit and is Pres­id­ent Obama’s nom­in­ee to head both the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency and U.S. Cy­ber Com­mand.

“Clearly cy­ber will be an ele­ment of al­most any crisis we are go­ing to see in the fu­ture. It has been in the past. I be­lieve we see it today in the Ukraine. We’ve seen it in Syr­ia, Geor­gia. It in­creas­ingly is be­com­ing a norm,” Ro­gers said.

Ukrain­i­an of­fi­cials have said in re­cent weeks that gov­ern­ment, me­dia, and tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions sys­tems have come un­der cy­ber­at­tack. The at­tacks were de­signed to jam com­mu­nic­a­tions and hinder the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the crisis in Crimea, the of­fi­cials said.

Ukrain­i­an sys­tems are also re­portedly in­fec­ted with a cyberes­pi­on­age tool de­signed to spy on the com­puter users.

Dur­ing Tues­day’s Sen­ate hear­ing, Ro­gers poin­ted to the cy­ber­at­tacks in Ukraine as an ex­ample of “what is not ac­cept­able.”

He said the United States may con­sider of­fer­ing “spe­cif­ic tech­nic­al as­sist­ance” or oth­er meas­ures to help Ukraine de­fend its net­works.

Ro­gers warned that the United States is woe­fully un­der­prepared it­self for a cy­ber­at­tack. He said one of his top pri­or­it­ies will be bet­ter de­fense of gov­ern­ment com­puter sys­tems.

“The real­ity is that the net­work struc­ture of today re­flects a dif­fer­ent time and a dif­fer­ent place,” he said. “It’s only a mat­ter of time, I be­lieve, be­fore we start to see more de­struct­ive activ­ity.”

The NSA nom­in­ee urged Con­gress to en­act le­gis­la­tion that would en­able the gov­ern­ment and private sec­tor to share in­form­a­tion about cy­ber­at­tacks and set cy­ber­se­cur­ity stand­ards for crit­ic­al in­fra­struc­ture, such as banks and elec­tric util­it­ies. Ro­gers iden­ti­fied li­ab­il­ity pro­tec­tion for busi­nesses that share in­form­a­tion as a “crit­ic­al ele­ment” in cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion.

Sen. Saxby Cham­b­liss, the top Re­pub­lic­an on the Sen­ate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said he is “very close” to an agree­ment on in­form­a­tion-shar­ing cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion with In­tel­li­gence Chair­wo­man Di­anne Fein­stein.

The House passed its own cy­ber­se­cur­ity bill, the Cy­ber In­tel­li­gence Shar­ing and Pro­tec­tion Act, last year. But the sur­veil­lance leaks by Ed­ward Snowden have heightened pri­vacy con­cerns and dampened en­thu­si­asm for any le­gis­la­tion that may ex­pand the NSA’s ac­cess to data.

Ro­gers said he sup­ports Pres­id­ent Obama’s plan to re­move the massive data­base of phone re­cords from the NSA’s con­trol. He prom­ised to be trans­par­ent and said the agency must do a bet­ter job com­mu­nic­at­ing with the pub­lic.

“I wel­come a dia­logue on this top­ic, and I think it’s im­port­ant for us as a na­tion,” he said, re­fer­ring to the de­bate over sur­veil­lance and pri­vacy. “I look for­ward to be­ing part of that dia­logue.”

Al­though Ro­gers said Snowden’s leaks have harmed U.S. na­tion­al se­cur­ity, he de­clined to call the NSA leak­er a trait­or.

“But I cer­tainly would not use the word hero,” Ro­gers said.

What We're Following See More »
RSC OPPOSITION
House Conservatives Balk on Obamacare Replacement
27 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"The chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee said Monday he would vote against a draft ObamaCare replacement bill that leaked last week. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), head of the 172-member committee, said Monday his opposition stems from the draft bill's use of refundable tax credits." He said the current plan simply "kicks the can down the road" rather than attempt any real reform.

Source:
ENLISTS THEIR HELP IN REPEAL/REPLACE
Trump Meets with Health Execs
27 minutes ago
THE LATEST
ALSO VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE BY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
Scalia’s Widow to Be Trump’s Guest at Speech
28 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

The White House revealed its guest list for President Trump's address to Congress on Tuesday night. The marquee name: Maureen Scalia, the wife of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Also seated with the first lady will be three family members of people killed by illegal immigrants.

ZINKE NEXT IN LINE
Wilbur Ross Confirmed as Commerce Secretary
44 minutes ago
THE LATEST
FORMER GOVERNOR, AMBASSADOR TO CHINA
Jon Huntsman in Line to be #2 at State
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login