Russia, China, North Korea and Iran remain the nations of which the US is most wary in the cyber arena, each developing capabilities to attack systems and steal data.
A report by director of national intelligence James Clapper for the US Select Committee on Intelligence outlined the cyber threats facing the US, ranging from rival nations to criminals, and how the US needs to tackle this growing problem.
Focusing on China, for example, Clapper insinuated that the US has failed to make it hard enough to stop the country gathering information.
“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 advanced capabilities,” he said.
“Improved US cyber security would complicate Chinese cyber espionage activities by addressing the less sophisticated threats, and raising the cost and risk if China persists.”
Meanwhile, Clapper noted that Russia is instigating a government-led programme to make cyber warfare a key part of its defence strategy.
“Russia’s ministry of defence is establishing its own cyber command which, according to senior Russian military officials, will be responsible for conducting offensive cyber activities, including propaganda operations and inserting malware into enemy command and control systems,” he said.
“Russia’s armed forces are also establishing a specialised branch for computer network operations.”
Clapper noted that Russian hackers have already infiltrated at least three industrial control system vendors using specially crafted malware.
The report also touched on Iran and North Korea, noting that, while these attackers are perhaps not on the level of Russia and China, they still pose a threat, as attacks on Las Vegas casinos and Sony Entertainment Pictures have shown.
However, National Security Agency director Michael Rogers said during the hearing that attacks from Iran have eased off since talks over the nation's nuclear programme began, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“We saw less activity directed directly against us,” he said, although he acknowledged that attacks do still take place and will not end entirely.
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