FBI director asks for millions to catch up with China's cyber mischief

For each cyber-centric agent employed by the FBI, China has 50.
Amal Jos Chacko
FBI agents outmanned by China 50-1
FBI agents outmanned by China 50-1


For each cyber-centric agent employed by the FBI, China has 50.

Christopher Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, revealed this surprising fact while speaking at the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

In this digital age, where even wars are fought in the cyber-verse, there is a need for countries to up their presence guarding cyberspace.

“A key part of the Chinese government’s multi-pronged strategy to lie, to cheat, and to steal their way to surpassing us as the global superpower is cyber,” Wray said. “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.”

“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.”

Ransomware attacks

But it’s not just China that poses a threat to the U.S., according to Wray. The agency is investigating a plethora of ransomware variants— threats from individual cyber criminals and nation-state actors from the likes of Iran and North Korea.

Ransomware attacks are a type of malware where a hacker gains access to and encrypts users’ files, holding them hostage until a ransom is paid.

In 2021, Hafnium, a Chinese-state-sponsored hacking group, breached Microsoft Exchange Servers and gained access to emails and passwords on these servers and connected devices on the same network. An estimated 30,000 U.S. organizations, both commercial and government-owned, were exposed to this attack. The Chinese government denied their involvement, calling the accusations “groundless.”

This attack came just a year after the Sunburst attack in which bad actors also breached Orion—the IT management software developed by the American software company SolarWinds. This hack resulted in the leaking of data from organizations worldwide including those that used Orion— sensitive information such as passwords and email addresses.

Wray conveyed concern at these groups targeting “critical infrastructure and services ordinary Americans rely on,” including hospitals, schools, and 911 call centers.

“Our opponents in this space are relentless and we need your help to ensure that we’ve got the resources to keep responding in kind,” he said while explaining his request for over 192 more cyber positions and $63 million in this year’s budget.

The Bureau intends to use these additional resources to ensure that “the FBI remains the world’s premier cyber investigative agency by taking the fight to our adversaries through joint sequenced operations and rapid information sharing with the private sector.”

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