U.S. Lawmakers Warn of Security Threats From Cyberattacks

The top two lawmakers on the U.S. House committee dealing with intelligence matters warned that cyberattacks are posing increasing risks to U.S. economic and national security.

“We have attacks right now,” Representative Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “Wall Street has been attacked. We have the capability of other countries, including Iran, for destructive attacks, to knock out our grid system, to attack some of our banks. We have got to stop this.”

U.S. officials say confronting threats to cybersecurity is urgent because attacks on corporate networks and public officials have increased in recent months. James Clapper, the nation’s top intelligence official, told lawmakers last week that the risk of hackers causing significant disruption to essential services ranks as the intelligence community’s top concern, ahead of terrorism, in an annual worldwide threat assessment.

Appearing with Ruppersberger on CNN, Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said China has used cyberattacks to steal the “blueprints that allow you to build your product and have a job.”

“They go in and steal it, repurpose it, and use it to artificially compete in the world market,” Rogers said. “That costs us real jobs.”

China’s Role

President Barack Obama has told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the issue will be a key part of bilateral talks, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said last week. The issue has moved near the top of the administration’s agenda as attacks on corporate networks have been traced to China, both by U.S. intelligence agencies and by security firms such as Alexandria, Virginia-based Mandiant Corp.

On March 13 Obama attended a White House session with more than a dozen corporate executives that included discussions about cybersecurity. Among those present were Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil Corp., and Jamie Dimon, chairman, president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank, said it experienced a denial-of-service attack on March 12 that kept customers from banking online through the website for several hours.

In an interview with ABC News last week, Obama expressed concern about computer hacking as U.S. law enforcement agencies began probing the posting of purported financial information of celebrities, government officials and first lady Michelle Obama.

The Secret Service has opened an investigation into the matter involving the first lady, said Brian Leary, a spokesman for the agency. He declined to comment further on the probe.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the posting of the alleged personal financial documents, Jenny Shearer, an agency spokeswoman, said by e-mail. Hackers said they had posted data on celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Ashton Kutcher and government officials such as Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller.

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