Testifying before Congress recently, Robert Anderson, the executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber Response and Services branch said that every sector of the federal government has been hacked and those agencies that believe they have not been hacked have merely not yet discovered that they had been hacked. The hacking and data stealing from government agencies and private companies as exemplified by the Target data breach of last year present a major threat to the United States. The hacking is done, Anderson testified, by four unrelated groups who he described as “spies, transnational organized criminals, terrorists and hacktivist groups.” Corporate espionage by which companies both domestic and foreign steal business secrets is a major problem as well. An example of this is found in the recent indictments of Chinese hackers for stealing American companies business secrets. Anderson further testified that “The bottom line is, we’re losing a lot of data, money and innovation.” That is the bad news.
The good news is that the government is making a concerted effort to combat this threat. Anderson told Congress that the government is “engaging in an unprecedented level of collaboration” with businesses and international law organizations to fight this threat. In July the Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12-3 to approve the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” which would permit the government, technology and manufacturing companies to better share information in an effort to protect both companies and the government from cyberattacks. Some privacy advocates have been critical of the proposal, but with proper safeguards, this bill should be passed to enhance the ability to fight hackers.