Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center Director Sean McGurk, recently testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations on the current cyber threat to the United States.
Sensitive information is routinely stolen from both government and private sector networks, undermining confidence in our information systems, the information collection and sharing process and, as bad as the loss of precious national intellectual capital is, we increasingly face threats that are even greater. We currently cannot be certain that our information infrastructure will remain accessible and reliable during a time of crisis.
We face persistent, unauthorized, and often unattributed intrusions into Federal Executive Branch civilian networks. These intruders span a spectrum of malicious actors, including nation states, terrorist networks, organized criminal groups, or individuals located here in the United States. They have varying levels of access and technical sophistication, but all have nefarious intent. Several are capable of targeting elements of the U.S. information infrastructure to disrupt, dismantle, or destroy systems upon which we depend. Motives include intelligence collection, intellectual property or monetary theft, or disruption of commercial activities, among others. Criminal elements continue to show increasing levels of sophistication in their technical and targeting capabilities and have shown a willingness to sell these capabilities on the underground market. In addition, terrorist groups and their sympathizers have expressed interest in using cyberspace to target and harm the United States and its citizens. While some have commented on terrorists’ own lack of technical abilities, the availability of technical tools for purchase and use remains a potential threat.