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February 02, 2010

DNI Gets Its Cyber on
Posted by Patrick Barry

Flying well below the radar screen in a week that's packed with budget, QDR and DADT mania is the Director of National Intelligence's Annual Threat Assessment.  Maybe after all the controversy following his testimony on the underpants bomber, Dennis Blair was hoping to keep a low-profile.  But surprise, surprise, Laura Rozen's not going to let him off that easy. 

Last year's assessment was noteworthy for citing the global economic crisis alongside terrorism as a principle threat to the security of the U.S.  So what's the sexy this year? Cyber security:

Malicious cyber activity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication. While both the threats and technologies associated with cyberspace are dynamic, the existing balance in network technology favors malicious actors, and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Sensitive information is stolen daily from both government and private sector networks, undermining confidence in our information systems, and in the very information these systems were intended to convey. We often find persistent, unauthorized, and at times, unattributable presences on exploited networks, the hallmark of an unknown adversary intending to do far more than merely demonstrate skill or mock a vulnerability. We cannot be certain that our cyberspace infrastructure will remain available and reliable during a time of crisis. Within this dynamic environment, we are confronting threats that are both more targeted and more serious.

So is Blair saying that the recent assault on Google's cyber infrastructure was not so much a one-off as a portent of things to come (and may in fact be happening already much more than is commonly recognized)?  Or is he worried about China's move to buy up the world's Ipads?


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