Beijing poses an “unparalleled” cyber threat to the US government and American citizens, the bureau warned lawmakers
FBI Director Christopher Wray has claimed that Chinese hackers outnumber US cybersecurity agents by at least “50 to 1,” saying the People’s Republic operates a larger cyber program than all other world powers combined.
Addressing lawmakers during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday, Wray outlined the bureau’s recent cybersecurity efforts and its funding needs, stating the hackers are capable of inflicting “greater damage than ever before” while placing special emphasis on the “China threat.”
“The scale of the Chinese cyber threat is unparalleled. They’ve got a bigger hacking program than every other major nation combined, and have stolen more of our personal and corporate data than all other nations, big or small, combined,” he said, adding that Washington is struggling to keep up with Beijing in the cyber realm.
To give you a sense of what we’re up against, if each one of the FBI’s cyber agents and intel analysts focused exclusively on the China threat, on nothing but China, Chinese hackers would still outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1.
The bureau head went on to warn of cyber attacks conducted by other foreign states, including Russia, Iran and North Korea, but said China posed the greatest danger to US privacy and security, pointing to its alleged “multi-pronged strategy” to surpass the United States as “the global superpower.”
In addition to “nation-state actors,” Wray also noted the FBI’s concerns about private cyber criminals, saying the agency is now investigating “over 100 different ransomware variants,” referring to a common form of malware which seeks to hold user data hostage in exchange for payment.
The FBI has requested funding to create around 200 additional cyber positions at the bureau to address the purported threat from China, seeking just over $63 million, in addition to the $10.8 billion budget already proposed for the 2023 fiscal year.
“There’s no country that presents a more significant threat to our innovation, our ideas, our economic security, our national security than the Chinese government,” Wray continued. “And that’s why we’ve grown the number of investigations into threats from China about 1,300%.”
Chinese officials have denied US allegations of hacking and data theft, and instead leveled similar charges at Washington. Earlier this month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry claimed the United States is now the “biggest threat to global cybersecurity” which seeks to “maintain its hegemony in cyberspace,” urging the US to cease its “global hacking operations.”