The "warning lights are blinking red again," said the American government's top intelligence official on Friday.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned of newly resurgent threats by Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China on critical U.S. infrastructure while speaking at the Hudson Institute think tank.
Coats happened to be speaking at the event just after the Department of Justice revealed an indictment against 12 Russian military agents for hacking the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
The governments of Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are attacking the computer networks of federal, state and local government agencies, U.S. corporations, and academic institutions, said Coats.
Of the four, said Coats, "Russia has been the most aggressive foreign actor, no question."
From Reuters' coverage of DNI Coats' remarks:
Coats warned that the possibility of a "crippling cyber attack on our critical infrastructure" by a foreign actor is growing.
He likened daily cyber attacks to the "alarming activities" that U.S. intelligence agencies detected before al Qaeda staged the most devastating extremist attack on the U.S. homeland on Sept. 11, 2001.
"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.
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.
"However, we fully realise that we are just one click away of the keyboard from a similar situation repeating itself," Coats continued.
At the same time, he said, some of the same Russian actors who meddled in the 2016 campaign again are using fake social media accounts and other means to spread false information and propaganda to fuel political divisions in the United States, he said.
Coats cited unnamed "individuals" affiliated with the Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg-based "troll factory" indicted by a federal grand jury in February as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian election meddling.
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.
China, Coats said, is primarily intent on stealing military and industrial secrets and had "capabilities, resources that perhaps Russia doesn't have." But he said Moscow aims to undermine U.S. values and democratic institutions.
Here's an alternate source for the video [CSPAN].
JULY 13, 2018
Intelligence and National Security
The Hudson Institute hosted Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats for a discussion on cybersecurity, counterterrorism and Russian election interference. Director Coats talked about increased malicious cyber activities, saying the "warning lights are blinking red," and that the "digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack." He also said that Russia is "no question" the most aggressive foreign actor. He warned President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. knows what he is doing, and that if he wanted to "stay in this tit-for-tat, we're going to beat you."