FBI Director Christopher Wray has told Congress it needs more money, arguing that the number of Chinese hackers far outnumbers the number of electronic intelligence personnel in the United States.
Testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee during a budget hearing on Thursday, Wray said, "To give you an idea of what we're up against, if every single one of the FBI's cyber operatives and intelligence analysts focused exclusively on the threat from China, Chinese hackers would still outnumber us." FBI cyber security personnel at least 50 to 1".
Ray added that China has "a larger hacking program than any other country, and has stolen more of our personal data and US corporate data than all other countries – large and small – combined."
He added, "Today's cyber threats are more prevalent, striking a variety of victims, and have the potential for greater damage than ever before. You can take China as an example. An essential part of the Chinese government's multi-way strategy to overtake us as a global superpower in the field of Internet is based on Data theft and cyber security threat.
China is not the only danger coming from the East
However, Wray said, "Countries like Russia, Iran, and North Korea also present significant cybersecurity concerns, all in addition to non-state criminal actors. The FBI is currently investigating over 100 ransomware cases with dozens of victims each."
Wray warned that cyberattacks target critical infrastructure and services that ordinary Americans rely on every day, such as hospitals, schools and emergency call centers.
The agency is asking for about $63 million to help it boost its cyber staff with 192 new jobs. Ray said this will also help the FBI place more cyber staff in field offices to be closer to where cyber crime victims are in real life.
"We will devote these critical resources to ensuring that the FBI remains the world's leading cyber investigation agency by taking the fight to our adversaries through joint chain operations and rapidly sharing information with the private sector," Wray said.
Ray's warnings come after the intelligence community's annual threat report said China represented "the broadest, most active and persistent cyberespionage threat to US government and private sector networks."
Those responsible for the report warned that China is "capable of launching cyberattacks that could disrupt critical infrastructure services within the United States, including oil and gas pipelines and rail systems."
As for Russia, intelligence officials estimated that the Kremlin would continue to use "military and security tools, malign influence, and electronic and intelligence tools to undermine the interests of the United States and its allies."
The officials also warned that Iran and North Korea pose a "significant threat" to US networks and data, given their capabilities and willingness to conduct "aggressive cyber operations."