UPDATED 20:11 EDT / MAY 01 2023


FBI cites risk of Chinese hackers in request for additional cybersecurity funding

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has requested a funding boost for its cybersecurity and related investigation services while highlighting that Chinese hackers outnumber FBI cyber staff by 50 to one.

The request came at a congressional hearing late last week. FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House of Representative Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and related agencies that the U.S. faces a multitude of serious and evolving threats, including sophistical cyber-based attacks.

In his statement on April 27, Wray said that through the last two years, the “FBI has seen a wider-than-ever range of cyber actors threaten Americans’ safety, security and confidence in our digitally connected world.” The usual national state actors are mentioned — China, Russia and North Korea — with previous successful takedowns covered, including that of the cybercrime forum Genesis Market in April and the Hive ransomware group in January. None of that is new, but Wray’s statements on China stand out in his testimony.

“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, Chinese hackers would still outnumber FBI Cyber personnel by at least 50 to one,” Wray said, before adding that China has “a bigger hacking program than every other major nation combined and has stolen more of our personal and corporate data than all other nations — big or small — combined.”

Wray asked the committee to increase FBI funding for “program enhancement,” including $63.4 million to enhance cyber investigative capabilities, $27.2 million to improve the FBI’s cybersecurity posture and protect internal networks and $3.1 million to sustain secure communications platforms. The sums requested are on top of existing staff and programs.

Although the call for additional funding may not seem particularly large, it was broadly supported by cybersecurity experts.

“As noted across several panels at RSA Conference 2023, the FBI’s focus on disrupting cybercrime at any step in the process is a shift from the traditional law enforcement goal of indictments and arrests,” Melissa Bischoping, director of endpoint security research at endpoint management company Tanium Inc., told SiliconANGLE today. “The financial investment by the FBI will hopefully result in additional human and technology support to disrupt cybercrime operations and infrastructure earlier than before, which may help prevent attacks.”

Dave Gerry, chief executive officer of crowdsourced cybersecurity company Bugcrowd Inc., noted that “the FBI faces the challenge many security organizations and leaders face in private businesses – measuring the benefit of avoiding breaches as a result of cyber attacks. While certainly not entirely, the threat of action by Federal, State and Local law enforcement agencies, in addition to the increased sophistication in thwarting attacks, continues to be a strong deterrent to criminals looking for an easy win.”

Photo: Dave Newman/Flickr

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