Director of National Intelligence warns of devastating cyber threat to US infrastructure

Pierluigi Paganini July 16, 2018

The Director of the National Intelligence Dan Coats warned last week of a devastating cyber threat to US infrastructure, he said that “warning lights are blinking red again.”

The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned last week of a devastating cyber threat to US infrastructure, he used the following words to express his concerns:

“warning lights are blinking red again” 

The U.S. intelligence chief highlighted that computer networks of US government agencies, enterprises, and academic institutions are under incessant attack launched by foreign states.

Russia, North Korea, China, and Iran are the most persistent attacker, the number of their attacks continue to increase and the level of sophistication is growing too.

US infrastructure threat

The Director of National Intelligence believes that Russia is the most aggressive threat actor and recent events demonstrate it. On Friday, the special Counsel Robert Mueller, who indicted on February 13 Russians for a massive operation aimed to influence the 2016 Presidential election, charged 12 Russian intelligence officers working under the GRU of carrying out “large-scale cyber operations” to steal Democratic Party documents and emails.

Of the four, “Russia has been the most aggressive foreign actor, no question,” he said.

There is a great difference between campaigns launched by China and Russian ones.

According to Coats, China operates with the primary intent on stealing military and industrial secrets and had “capabilities, resources that perhaps Russia doesn’t have.” The Kremlin operated to undermine U.S. values and democratic institutions.

Coats spoke at the Hudson Institute think tank shortly after the announcement of the indictment.

Coats warned of threat a “crippling cyber attack on our critical infrastructure” by a nation state actor is growing.

“Coats said the U.S. government has not yet detected the kinds of cyber attacks and intrusions that officials say Russia launched against state election boards and voter data bases before the 2016 election.” reported the Reuters.

“However, we fully realize that we are just one click away of the keyboard from a similar situation repeating itself,” Coats continued.

He made a parallelism on the current situation in the cyberspace with the “alarming activities” that U.S. intelligence detected before al Qaeda conducted Sept. 11, 2001 attack.

“The system was blinking red. Here we are nearly two decades later and I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again,” he said.

While I’m writing, President Donald Trump has arrived at Finland’s Presidential Palace for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of the Trump-Putin meeting in Helsinki on Monday, the US President announced that he might ask the extradition of the 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of attempting to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Journalist asked Trump whether he would request the extradition to the US of the Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking Hillary Clinton‘s presidential campaign, and the reply was clear

“Well, I might.” Trump said

“I hadn’t thought of that. But I certainly, I’ll be asking about it, but again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration.”

Coats also mentioned the so-called “troll factory” operated by unnamed “individuals” affiliated with the Internet Research Agency based in the St. Petersburg that was indicted by federal authorities in February.

These individuals have been “creating new social media accounts, masquerading as Americans and then using these accounts to draw attention to divisive issues,” he said.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – US infrastructure, Russia)

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