March 13, 2013 - 09:33 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Intelligence leaders said for the first time on Tuesday, March 12 that cyber attacks and cyber espionage have supplanted terrorism as the top security threat facing the United States, according to Reuters.
That stark assessment, in an annual "worldwide threat" briefing that covered concerns as diverse as North Korea's belligerence and Syria's civil war, was reinforced in remarks by the spy chiefs before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
They expressed concern that computer technology is evolving so quickly it is hard for security experts to keep up.
"In some cases, the world is applying digital technologies faster than our ability to understand the security implications and mitigate potential risks," James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told the committee.
In written testimony, Clapper softened his analysis somewhat, playing down the likelihood of catastrophic attacks on the United States in the near term - either through digital technologies, or from foreign or domestic militants employing traditional violence.
But this year's annual threat briefing underscored how, a decade after the Iraq war began and nearly two years after the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, digital assaults on government and computer networks have supplanted earlier security fears.
In a separate hearing on Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services committee, Army General Keith Alexander, head of the U.S. military's Cyber Command, said cyber attacks on private companies and in particular on the U.S. banking sector were getting worse. He predicted that the intensity and number of attacks will grow significantly throughout the year.
Alexander said the military was beefing up its cyber warrior team, adding troops from across the military as well as civilians. He said there would be three teams: a Cyber National Mission force which will deploy teams to defend against national-level threats; a Cyber Combat Mission force in charge of operational control; and a Cyber Protection force which will defend the military's information systems.
The goal is to add the new resources to the teams by the end of 2015, but one third of them are planned to be in place by this September.