- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The head of U.S. counterintelligence said Tuesday that the intelligence community had a terrible 2019 hampered by turncoats from within and outside of government.

William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told a gathering of cybersecurity professionals that insider threats posed the greatest risk for Americans. He also previewed a new counterintelligence strategy to be introduced by the federal government Monday.

“We had a horrible year last year in 2019, with indictments, arrests, convictions of clearance-holders as well as arrests, indictments, convictions of non-traditional collectors in the private sector — theft of intellectual property and trade secrets,” Mr. Evanina said at a meeting of the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology. “It was not a good year for industry nor the government.”

Mr. Evanina said China, Russia, Iran and North Korea are sabotaging, stealing and surveilling America’s critical infrastructure, incident command systems, and data. He added that insider threats are “constantly damaging our intellectual property and trade secrets,” but he thinks people have grown “numb” to other countries’ attacks.

Mr. Evanina said the federal government would announce on Monday a new counterintelligence strategy authorized by President Trump that attempts to fundamentally change Americans’ perspective on who has the authority and responsibility for thwarting enemies’ intelligence-collection efforts.

“From election security to foreign influence, economic security to critical infrastructure, we are going to look at everything and say it is no longer a government-just issue — it’s everyone’s issue,” Mr. Evanina said.

He said the political issues dominating the news have distracted from critical threats. He cited recent breaches of industry organizations and academia, such as at Harvard University. Last week, the Justice Department charged the head of Harvard’s chemistry and biology department, Charles Lieber, with making false statements about his participation in a Chinese effort to recruit foreign researchers.

By raising Americans’ awareness of what modern counterintelligence looks like, Mr. Evanina said the government is aiming to better prepare citizens to defend themselves against foreign adversaries.

“We are still the land of awesomeness, we make amazing things,” Mr. Evanina said. “It can’t just be the old guns, gates, badges and the person who’s in charge of making sure our computers work. It has to be a wider net of understanding.”

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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