Cyber intrusions carried out by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are increasing in both scale and severity, FBI Director James Comey said this week.
The four states “are getting much more sophisticated, much more aggressive in state-sponsored intrusion activity,” Comey said Aug. 30.
International criminals also are stepping cyber theft and the threat posed by ransomware is increasing, he added.
Hackers of all types are targeting people with access to information systems.
“The threat actors know that, and so they spend a tremendous amount of time trying to understand how they might get in through human beings, through spoofing the existence of a particular human being or through actually recruiting someone who is disgruntled, who is unhappy, who’s looking to damage an employer or maybe to make extra dough on the side,” he said.
The goal is information and access. “They’re after advantage whether that is political or economic or ideological,” he said. “And we’re worried, of course, not just about the loss of data in pursuit of those goals, but we worry every day about the potential for the manipulation of data to accomplish the same illicit ends.”
“They are more than just attacks on our infrastructure. They are attacks on our employees and our customers. They are attacks on our reputation, on our economy, on our security, on our basic freedoms,” Comey said.
Comey defended the Obama administration’s symbolic efforts to deter cyber attacks, such as indicting hackers from China and Iran.
“Whether through indictment or prosecution or sanction or publicity, we are working very hard to make people at keyboards feel our breath on their necks and try to change that behavior,” Comey said. “We’ve got to get to a point where we can reach them as easily as they can reach us and change behavior by that reach-out.”
Cyber Threat Brief
Aug. 31, 2016