Chinese Hackers Outnumber US Cyber Agents ‘By at Least 50 to 1’: FBI Director Wray
During an April 27 appearance before the House Appropriations Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the panel that Chinese hackers outnumber U.S. cyber specialists 50 to 1.
On April 26, the House passed a bill that would address the brewing battle over the debt ceiling. As part of the spending package, the FBI would see a 22 percent cut in funding.
While China lags behind the United States in many areas, the communist state has emphasized cyber warfare. And in that domain, Wray said, China has a clear advantage.
“Today’s cyber threats carry more risks, threaten more victims, and are more pervasive than ever before,” Wray said.
“A key strategy of China is to lie, cheat, and steal their way to surpassing us as the global superpower in cyber,” Wray explained.
“If you look at China, their hacking program is bigger than that of every other nation combined,” Wray said in testimony to the panel supporting President Joe Biden’s 2024 budget request.
“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 1,” he told the panel.
Wray called China “the greatest threat to our country,” telling the panel that FBI investigations into the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and their actors had increased by 1,300 percent. A 22 percent cut, he said, “would mean scores of threats from China go unaddressed, and I can assure you the Chinese government is not cutting back.”
He argued against the 22 percent reduction proposed by Republicans, saying it would further benefit China’s cyber dominance.
“A 22 percent cut means more [cyber] attacks that hit critical infrastructure: schools, hospitals, 911 call centers, our innovation, our economic security,” Wray said.
Wray told the panel that the FBI blocks 15 million cyber attacks on U.S. infrastructure per week.
“We know cyber adversaries want to hack government systems—especially ones that have sensitive information like we do,” he added. “A 22 percent reduction would almost certainly mean more of those [cyber attacks] would get through.”
In addition, Wray said that the cut would mean that the FBI would less be able to combat ransomware threats originating in both the United States and abroad.
Though the FBI was once one of the most respected American institutions, with broad swaths of Democrats and Republicans alike supporting the agency, the issue has become more partisan in recent years.
Republicans have expressed high-level concerns that the FBI has deviated from its mission to protect the American people, saying the agency is instead focusing on targeting Democrats’ political enemies.
While Republicans have expressed their anxiety to ensure that the FBI has the tools it needs to address threats, the proposed 22 percent cut comes in the context of this significant distrust between Republicans and federal law enforcement.