The Office of the Director of National Intelligence published an annotated multi-media version of its Worldwide Threat Assessment, which was presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee in February.
According to the testimony, cyber threats from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are the biggest concerns in the next year. It says that Russia, Iran and North Korea, in particular, are testing out more aggressive cyber threats, which pose a growing threat to the United States.
Russia is expected to carry out bolder and more sophisticated attacks that build on current capabilities, including hack-and-leak influence operations and DDoS attacks.
The intel community predicts that China will continue to use cyber espionage and bolster cyber attack capabilities to support national security priorities. It points out that most detected Chinese cyber attacks on U.S. private industry are focused on defense contractors or firms whose product and services support the government.
Iran is likely to continue to try penetrating U.S. and allied networks for espionage, although its intelligence services primarily focus on Middle Eastern adversaries.
North Korea poses a threat, as it is likely to use cyber operations to raise funds, gather intelligence and launch attacks on the United States. It has a number of tools at its disposal, including DDoS, data deletion and the deployment of ransomware.
The intel community also expect the line between the line between criminal and nation-state activity to become increasingly blurred. The assessment also found that weapons of mass destruction and terrorism continue to pose serious threats to the U.S. and allies.
The assessment also pinpointed foreign elections as critical inflection points, and stated that the U.S. midterm elections are likely to be a potential target for Russia. “At a minimum, we expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople, and other means of influence to try and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States,” said the report.