USA cyber threat at 'critical point': U.S. intelligence chief

Open source

Open source

Director Coats then joined Hudson Institute Distinguished Fellow Walter Russell Mead for an extended discussion on global and regional threats, including cybersecurity, the challenges of Russian Federation and a rising China, prospects for the denuclearization of North Korea, counterterrorism, and other concerns facing American policymakers today and in the years ahead. "It is why I believe we are at a critical point", national intelligence director Dan Coats said Friday at an event in Washington.

Mr. Coats, a former senator who previously served on the chamber's intelligence committee, made the remarks the same day the Department of Justice announced criminal charges against a dozen Russian military officials accused of hacking Democratic Party targets during the 2016 US presidential race.

President Trump's director of national intelligence warned Friday that foreign hackers are attempting potentially crippling cyberattacks against critical US infrastructure, relating a rash of recent assaults with "alarming activities" detected by USA intelligence prior to terrorists striking on September 11, 2001.

"The system was blinking red".

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He identified Russian Federation as the most aggressive, "no question". "And they continue their efforts to undermine our democracy".

Some of their targets include the federal government, the USA military, state and local governments, and U.S. businesses, he said. "They have capabilities, significant capabilities".

"We are seeing aggressive attempts to manipulate social media and to spread propaganda focused on hot-button issues that are meant to exacerbate socio-political divisions", he said.

The intelligence director said if he were to meet Putin Monday he would say: "We know what you're doing". If your goal is to strengthen Russian Federation in the proper way, we can cooperate with you. "But if you want to stay in this tit-for-tat, we're going to beat you".

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Coats also called on Americans to "verify the credibility of the sources of information upon which they base their decisions". "Here we are almost two decades later and I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again", he said.

In the wake of the new indictments of Russian intelligence officers, Trump is under increasing pressure to call off his summit with Putin.

Coats warned that the possibility of a "crippling cyber attack on our critical infrastructure" by a foreign actor is growing.

But Trump, whose campaign is being investigated for possible collusion with the Kremlin, doesn't appear likely to do that.

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"We are not yet seeing the kind of electoral interference in specific states and in voter databases that we experienced", he said. "I think he is very insulted by it".

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