James Clapper, director of U.S. intelligence, and other senior intelligence officers, have warned Congress that the next phase of escalating online data theft will likely involve the manipulation of digital information.
Clapper on Wednesday told lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee that a “cyber Armageddon,” in which a digitally triggered damage to physical infrastructure results in a series of catastrophic events, is less likely than “cyber operations that will change or manipulate data.”
Clapper’s testimony was supported by Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, who said that while such attacks are yet to be carried out, U.S. business and governmental agencies had entered an era of persistent “low-to-moderate level cyber-attacks from a variety of sources.”
The Guardian reports that both said that U.S. digital networks are currently threatened by wide-scale data theft, like the recent breach of the networks of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), not destruction or compromise.
Rogers and Clapper told lawmakers that the next phase of malicious digital intrusions, which would include not only the theft but also the manipulation or destruction of data, would undermine confidence in data stored on or accessible through U.S. networks, engendering an uncertainty which could jeopardize U.S. military situational awareness and undermine business activity.
“I believe the next push on the envelope is going to be the manipulation or the deletion of data which would of course compromise its integrity,” Clapper told the House panel.
Rogers testified that while the NSA and its military counterpart, the U.S.Cyber Command which he commands, had clear rules for protecting U.S.networks, their authority to engage in offensive cyber operations was less clear.
Read the full report at Homeland Security Newswire.