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Iran Press TV

US facing Armageddon-scale cyber threat: Spy master

Iran Press TV

Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:52AM

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has warned of a "large, Armageddon-scale" cyber attack that could "debilitate the entire US infrastructure."

"Cyber threats to US national and economic security are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and the severity of impact," Clapper told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

"In my 50-plus years in the intelligence business, I don't recall a time when we've been beset by a greater variety of challenges and risks around the world, both regionally and functionally," he said.

However, he acknowledged that the main concern was the "low to moderate-level cyber attacks" from a variety of hackers, which are imposing increasing costs to "US economic competitiveness and to national security."

The intelligence chief told US lawmakers that cyber espionage against the country will probably increase, in part because hackers face little or no punishment.

'Until such time as we do create both the substance and the mindset of deterrence, this sort of thing is going to continue,' he said.

Clapper specifically referred to China as one of the most active sources of espionage targeting a 'broad spectrum of US interests.'

'Although China is an advanced cyber actor in terms of capabilities, Chinese hackers are often able to gain access to their targets without having to resort to using advanced capabilities,' he said.

The Obama administration has accused China of being behind the recently-revealed hack of federal personnel information, which compromised personal data on some 22 million current and former US government employees.

Beijing, however, says Washington's cyber attack accusations are hypocritical, since intelligence leaks have revealed that the US itself is the most active perpetrator of cyber espionage against foreign countries, especially against China.

The United States is considering imposing sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals it believes are related to the hacking of US trade secrets.

On Thursday, Clapper and other intelligence officials pleaded with lawmakers to pass legislation that would prevent or lessen the effects of ongoing cyber operations against US interests.

A bill, lying dormant in the Senate, would encourage private businesses to share cyber-threat information with the federal government in hopes of averting attacks that are normally spotted too late to stop.

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