President Trump’s director of national intelligence warned Friday that foreign hackers are attempting potentially crippling cyberattacks against critical U.S. infrastructure, relating a rash of recent assaults with “alarming activities” detected by U.S. intelligence prior to terrorists striking on September 11, 2001.
“The system was blinking red. Here we are nearly two decades later and I’m here to say the warning lights are blinking red again,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at an event held by the Hudson Institute think tank.
“Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack,” Mr. Coats continued, citing daily assaults waged by hackers from countries including predominately Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
Invoking Sept. 11, Mr. Coats said that the wave of recent assaults waged against targets including government, businesses and energy sectors is reminiscent of the flurry of Al Qaeda activity witnessed by U.S. intelligence officials prior to the terrorist attacks.
“The warning signs are there. The system is blinking, and it is why I believe we’re at a critical point,” he said, warning hackers risk waging a “crippling cyberattack on our critical infrastructure.”
Mr. Coats, a former senator who previously served on the chamber’s intelligence committee, made the remarks the same day the Department of Justice announced criminal charges against a dozen Russian military officials accused of hacking Democratic Party targets during the 2016 U.S. presidential race.
Addressing the criminal activity referenced in the indictment Friday, Mr. Coats said U.S. officials have not seen any evidence yet of a similar assault potentially affecting the November 2018 midterm elections.
“We are not yet seeing the kind of electoral interference in specific states and in voter databases that we experienced,” he said. “However, we fully realize that we are just one click away of the keyboard from a similar situation repeating itself.”