US Spy Chiefs: Cyber Threat Is on Par With Terrorism

Cyber Command looks to go on offense

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 13, 2013 6:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – With China, Iran, and other countries increasingly hacking the United States, its infrastructure, and its companies, the Pentagon is stepping up its cyber defense operations in a major way—provided Washington's budget battles don't hamstring its efforts, reports the Washington Post. Gen. Keith Alexander, the head of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, told the Senate yesterday that he wants to set up 40 online support teams by 2015, including 13 specifically to defend against cyber attacks. “I would like to be clear that this team is an offensive team,” said Alexander.

But those plans could be in danger as congressional wrangling is currently holding up 25% of Cyber Command's budget and sequestration is forcing furloughs, especially to its civilian staff. National Intelligence Director James Clapper and FBI Director Robert Mueller also emphasized the scope of the threat in other Senate hearings yesterday, adds the Wall Street Journal. Mueller said the danger of cyber attacks keeps him up at night, and "has grown to be right up there" with terrorism. Added Clapper: "These capabilities put all sectors of our country at risk—from government and private networks to critical infrastructures."

Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of the US Cyber Command, testifying on Capitol Hill on Sept. 23, 2010.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday March 12, 2013, before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats .   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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