Democrat: Moscow Has Closed Cyber Gap With US
December 7, 2018
Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee warns the United States is
being outgunned in cyberspace, already having lost its competitive
advantage to Russia while China is rapidly closing in.
"When it comes to cyber, misinformation and disinformation, Russia is
already our peer and in the areas of misinformation or disinformation, I
believe is ahead of us," Senator Mark Warner told an audience Friday in
"This is an effective methodology for Russia and it's also remarkably
cheap," he added, calling for a realignment of U.S. defense spending.
Warner, calling Russia's election meddling both an intelligence failure
and a "failure of imagination," strongly criticized the White House, key
departments and fellow lawmakers for being too complacent in their
As for China, Warner called Beijing's cyber and censorship
infrastructure "the envy of authoritarian regimes around the world" and
warned when it comes to artificial intelligence, quantum computing and
5G mobile phone networks, China is "starting to outpace us on these
investments by orders of magnitude."
In contrast, the Democratic senator laid out a more aggressive approach
in cyberspace, with the United States leading allies in an effort to
establish clear rules and norms for behavior in cyberspace.
He also said it was imperative the U.S. articulate when and where it
would respond to cyberattacks.
"Our adversaries continue to believe that there won't be consequences
for their actions," Warner said. "For Russia and China, it's pretty much
been open season."
Warner also delivered a stern message to social media companies.
"Major platform companies — like Twitter and Facebook, but also Reddit,
YouTube and Tumblr — aren't doing nearly enough to prevent their
platforms from becoming petri dishes for Russian disinformation and
propaganda," he said. "If they don't work with us, Congress will have to
work on its own."
The Trump administration unveiled a new National Cyber Strategy in
September, calling for a more aggressive response to the growing online
threat posed by other countries, terrorist groups and criminal
"We're not just on defense," National Security Adviser John Bolton told
reporters at the time. "We're going to do a lot of things offensively,
and I think our adversaries need to know that."
U.S. military officials have also said their cyber teams are engaging
against other countries, terrorist groups and even criminal
organizations on a daily basis.
Warner on Friday praised elements of the new strategy, particularly
measures that have allowed the military to respond to attacks more
quickly. But, he said, on the whole it is not enough, pointing to
Trump's willingness to "kowtow" to Russian President Vladimir Putin
during their Helsinki Summit over Moscow's election interference
"No one in the Trump administration in the intel [intelligence] or
defense world doesn't acknowledge what happened in 2016," he said. "But
the fact that the head of our government still [finds] it's hard to get
those words out of his mouth, is a real problem."