Intel official: Cyber threat warnings ‘blinking red’

US national intelligence director Dan Coats identified Russia as the most aggressive foreign actor cyber attacker

US national intelligence director Dan Coats identified Russia as the most aggressive foreign actor cyber attacker"no question

The indictment and Coats' comments came three days before U.S. President Donald Trump was to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks in Helsinki, Trump's first formal summit with Putin. Coats warned July 13, 2018, that cyber threat warnings are "blinking red" with daily attempts by Russian Federation and other foreign actors trying to undermine American democracy as well as water, aviation and electric systems.

Invoking Sept. 11, Mr. Coats said that the wave of recent assaults waged against targets including government, businesses and energy sectors is reminiscent of the flurry of Al Qaeda activity witnessed by US intelligence officials prior to the terrorist attacks.

Coats spoke at Hudson Institute, a Washington think tank, shortly after the Justice Department indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking into Democratic email accounts during the 2016 US presidential election and releasing stolen information in the months before Americans headed to the polls.

He likened daily cyber attacks to the "alarming activities" that US intelligence agencies detected before al Qaeda staged the most devastating extremist attack on the USA homeland on September 11, 2001. But Beijing's agenda was more focused on stealing information and technical advances, while Moscow remained more interested in dividing the United States from its allies and undermining democracy, he said. China, Iran and North Korea also continue to wage cyber warfare on America, he added.

Some of their targets include the federal government, the USA military, state and local governments, and U.S. businesses, he said.

Putin: Trump was 'of no interest' to Russian Federation before 2016 election
But then came the press conference the two held after their meeting, which took things to odd new heights. Trump has denied the dossier's allegation, calling it a "disgrace" and a "witch hunt".

China, Coats said, is primarily intent on stealing military and industrial secrets and had "capabilities, resources that perhaps Russian Federation doesn't have".

Coats said Friday that intelligence officials have seen "aggressive attempts to manipulate social media and to spread propaganda focused on hot-button issues that are meant to exacerbate social, political divisions".

"My message would be: We know what you're doing, and we know you know what you're doing and what we're doing". We must "all apply critical thinking" to information, he said. If he goes through with it, he's being pressed to call Putin out on cyber attacks. And the president has expressed a willingness to believe Putin's denials.

So far, he said, the United States is "not yet seeing the kind of electoral interference in specific states and in voter databases that we experienced in 2016" by the Kremlin. "I think he is very insulted by it".

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