'Frankly, the United States is under attack': DNI Coats sounds alarm over cyberthreats from Russia

  • DNI Dan Coats tells the Senate Intelligence Committee the U.S. is "under attack" on the cybersecurity front.
  • Coats spoke alongside FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers.
Director of National Intelligence Agency Dan Coats
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Director of National Intelligence Agency Dan Coats

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats framed global cybersecurity threats in stark terms on Tuesday, saying: "Frankly, the United States is under attack."

Coats sounded the alarm in opening remarks at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on worldwide threats — annual testimony by intelligence chiefs about the greatest dangers to U.S. security.

He said the cybersecurity threats from state and nonstate entities are using technology to target "virtually every major action that takes place" and are one of his "greatest concerns and top priorities."

Russia, China, Iran and North Korea pose the greatest global cyberthreats, but terrorists, criminal organizations and even individuals are engaging in cyberoperations as well, Coats said.

Russia is likely to continue to pursue cyberactions against the U.S. "using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy, sow discord and undermine our values," he said.

Cybersecurity is far from the only threat on Coats' radar, however. North Korea's continuing nuclear ambitions will pose the greatest threat in terms of weapons of mass destruction in the coming year, Coats said. Other nations, including Russia, also pose a threat with wepons of mass destruction, he added.

He spoke alongside FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and NSA Director Adm. Mike Rogers.