James R. Clapper Jr.
Urges Congress to Act on Cyber Laws
February 27, 2012
The threat to U.S.-based computer
networks is one of the country’s most pressing security problems, and
Congress needs to act on it soon, the director of national intelligence
told a congressional panel today.
James R. Clapper Jr. said he and all of the U.S. intelligence leadership
agree the United States is in a type of cyber Cold War, losing some $300
billion annually to cyber-based corporate espionage, and sustaining
daily intrusions against public systems controlling everything from
major defense weapons systems and public air traffic to electricity and
Clapper was joined by CIA Director David H. Petraeus, Defense
Intelligence Agency Director Army Lt. Gen. Ronald L. Burgess Jr. and FBI
Director Robert S. Mueller for a House Select Intelligence Committee
hearing on worldwide threats. He urged lawmakers to pass a bill that
forces intelligence sharing between the government and the private
sector, such as the Defense Industrial Base pilot program that
then-Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III launched last year.
“It’s clear from all that we’ve said – and I hope predications about
mass attacks don’t become a self-fulfilling prophesy – but we all
recognize we need to do something,” he said.
Clapper also urged Congress to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act, which he called crucial to intelligence gathering. It
expires this year.
The director said he foresees a cyber environment in which technologies
continue to be fielded before effective security can be put in place.
Among the greatest challenges in cyber security, he added, are knowing
the perpetrator of a cyber attack in real time and capabilities gaps in
the cyber supply chain – the entire set of key actors involved in the
noted that the National Cyber Task Force includes 20 U.S. agencies, “so
when a major intrusion happens, we’re all at the table.” The “breaking
down of stovepipes” and sharing information in cyber security “is as
important now as it was before 9/11,” he added.
The FBI director told the panel that 47 states have different reporting
requirements for cyber attacks, and the private sector doesn’t have to
report them at all. “If they’re not reported, we can’t prevent the next
one from happening,” he said.
Mueller said the cyber threat is growing and is important to address. “I
do believe cyber threats will equal or surpass the threat from terrorism
in the near future,” he said.
Clapper agreed. “We all recognize this as a profound threat to this
country, to its future, to its economy, to its very being,” he said. “We
all recognize it, and we are committed to doing our best in defending