U.S. officials believe cyber-attacks are a bigger threat than terrorism


In the U.S. intelligence community’s annual review of worldwide threats, normally terrorism would be at the top of the list. But now, the nation’s top officials believe that cyber-attacks are now a greater threat to national security than terrorism, organized crime and the propagation of weapons of mass destruction.

While the issue of the Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups has been on the top of the list since September of 2001, James Clapper who is  director of national intelligence believes that counter-terrorist operations “have degraded core Al Qaeda to a point that the group is probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West.” However, the officials still warn that despite these setbacks, terrorist groups are still constantly adjusting their tactics in order to target the West.

On the other hand, the reason why cyber-attacks have topped the list is the growing worry that poorly protected U.S. networks that control core functions can could cause numerous disruptions, such as the power grid. Cyber-attacks could also likely attack infrastructures for transportation systems and financial networks.

This comes after some recent cyber-attacks on numerous U.S. based organizations, most of which were attributed to (and traced) China. It’s also another indication of how technology has severely changed our world — a hacker on his computer can be just as dangerous as a man with a gun, it seems.

[via LA Times, image via Ruthanne Reid]

Related Posts

  • jayesstee

    [@JMJ]   You said:
    “the Chinese (probably) are being naughty and should be confronted.”
    Trouble is The USA, UK and many other nations have shut down their mass consumable production and are now dependent on China for their supply. Make threatening noises to China and they could “take THEIR ball away”, i.e. stop supplying.   And it’s not just baubles we buy from them, they supply high tech. components as well.

  • JMJ

    You are both correct, I think. Cyber-security/warfare are causes for real concern for citizens and governments; however, wars and threats –real or imagined– are great for some businesses to make money. We all remember the “weapons of mass destruction” that America *knew* Iraq had developed and were hiding and that America had the *duty* to find and destroy. That turned out to be really good for business and not so good for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of young American warriors. Constant propaganda and fear mongering cause good people not to ask basic questions like, “Who decides that one country has the right to tell another what they can and cannot do?” or “How much individual freedom (privacy) is necessary to be sacrificed on the altar of *national security*?

    China is the new Soviet Union and makes a good *adversary* to be feared and to spend money preparing to defend oneself against. HOWEVER, like other nations (Can you say, STUXNET, kiddies?) , the Chinese (probably) are being naughty and should be confronted.

    So, again, I think both Ashraf and Seamus McSeamus are right: Somebody needs to be watching the cyber-gates but we all had better be carefully watching the watchers. Amen.

  • Seamus McSeamus


    Oh, it’s a real threat to be taken seriously, alright. I also think it fits nicely into the “never let a good crisis go to waste” category,

  • Ashraf

    [@Seamus McSeamus] While I’m sure there is an element of scaremongering, cyberattacks should be taken seriously.

    I’d have to agree with some that say cyberwar is more dangerous than real war simply because it is significantly easier to take part in cyberwar whereas real war has barriers to entry. And cyberwar can be just a destructive, although not as direct. For example, in real war you shoot/kill/blow up people and destroy property which is very gruesome. In cyberwar, however, if you manage to say, overheat a nuclear reactor or shutdown the power grid in large metropolitan areas for large amounts of time, that can cause just as much loss of life and damage to property.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    Yet another thing the government wants us to be afraid of. It’s all distraction… while the masses are worried about whatever threat the government conjures up, no one asks about all the extra money we pay in taxes or why the government can’t cut spending.