FBI Says Cyber Strikes Overtaking Terrorist Groups as Major Risk to U.S.

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Nov. 15, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

The head of the FBI on Thursday said he ex­pects the threat posed by cy­ber at­tacks on the United States in the com­ing years to ec­lipse the danger posed by al-Qaida, the Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted.

FBI Dir­ect­or James Comey told the Sen­ate Home­land Se­cur­ity Com­mit­tee he be­lieves that by 2023 spy­ing, thefts and at­tacks that oc­cur in the di­git­al realm will col­lect­ively rep­res­ent the biggest se­cur­ity chal­lenge con­front­ing the United States.

“We have con­nec­ted all of our lives — per­son­al, pro­fes­sion­al and na­tion­al — to the In­ter­net,” the dir­ect­or said. “That’s where the bad guys will go be­cause that’s where our lives are, our money, our secrets.”

Even as cy­ber threats are grow­ing, seni­or U.S. se­cur­ity of­fi­cials told the com­mit­tee the chances the coun­try would come un­der an­oth­er large-scale ter­ror­ist as­sault are at their low­est levels since pri­or to the Sept. 11 at­tacks.

“That is why we an­ti­cip­ate that in the fu­ture, re­sources de­voted to cy­ber-based threats will equal or even ec­lipse the re­sources de­voted to non-cy­ber-based ter­ror­ist threats,” Comey said.

The de­clin­ing threat posed by al-Qaida is the res­ult of the CIA’s years of leth­al aer­i­al as­saults on seni­or or­gan­iz­a­tion fig­ures and op­er­at­ives as well as oth­er counter-ter­ror­ism activ­it­ies.

While the danger rep­res­en­ted by the ter­ror­ist group has been re­duced, it has also be­come “more dis­persed geo­graph­ic­ally” due to the es­tab­lish­ment of new fran­chises and af­fil­i­ates in North Africa, Ye­men and Syr­ia, test­i­fied Mat­thew Olsen, head of the Na­tion­al Coun­terter­ror­ism Cen­ter. Be­cause of this, the ter­ror­ism threat “has be­come more sig­ni­fic­ant from a geo­graph­ic per­spect­ive and more com­plic­ated from an in­tel­li­gence per­spect­ive.”

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