Now it’s computer-launched cyber attacks and cyber espionage that are deemed most threatening to the U.S., moreso than Al Qaeda, according to the U.S. intelligence community’s annual review of worldwide threats. Even so, The Los Angeles Times adds that “Russia and China are unlikely to launch a devastating cyber-attack against the United States outside a military conflict or crisis that they believe threatens their vital interests.” That, notes The Times, is the view of James R. Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence, as expressed recently to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Apart from actions by nation states, though, Clapper added that computer hackers or organized groups “could access some poorly protected U.S. networks that control core functions, such as power generation” although their ability to cause “high-impact, systemic disruptions will probably be limited.”
U.S. officials aren’t dismissing the possibility of attacks in the U.S. by adherents of Al Qaeda or its affiliates, just adjusting their calculus of emerging threats. It remains a dicey world where U.S. interests are involved.