FBI Director Christopher Wray said data analytics are “an increasingly big problem” on the cybersecurity front and underscore the need for homeland security agencies to work closely with private industry.
“Certainly we need to work more and more closely with the private sector. And so things that help facilitate that are always useful,” Wray said Wednesday at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on global threats. “You know, in this country something like 90 percent of the critical infrastructure is in the hands of the private sector, and so the cyber threats in particular for the United States — unlike, say, a very centralized country like China where, you know, over half the companies are state-owned enterprises — requires that partnership with the private sector.”
“This is a place that for me we need to see more and more resources, quite frankly, devoted because we’re going to have to engage more and more with the private sector on that issue,” he said when asked how to best confront the ever-widening breadth of threats across the supply chain.
On his concerns about data analytics, Wray acknowledged “it’s not a sexy topic, but it’s incredibly significant in the cyber arena particularly.”
“In any one case, if you just stop and think about it for a minute, the volumes and volumes of — they’re coming up with new kinds of bytes, you know, put your own prefix in front of it — to capture the sheer volume of what we’re getting in every case. The ability to exploit that fast enough is a real challenge, and so helping DHS and FBI and others have the tools to exploit that information is going to be a really significant step forward.”
Overall, the director said, the FBI needs “more agents, computer scientists, data analysts and tools, technological tools, to be able to engage on more and more cases.”
“We find that one of the biggest frustrations that we hear from the private sector is how quickly we can engage on a lot of these things, and part of that is… just the sheer volume. The attack surface is so broad now,” Wray said. “So we’re trying to use our cyber task forces that we have all over the country that have a whole bunch of different agencies on them, as well, and we’re trying to look for ways to partner with the private sector. But again, a lot of it comes down to people and tools, and very specific kinds of people and tools.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan echoed Wray’s call for more people and tools.
“We do need more. The attack surface is very broad, and the private-sector engagement is obviously one of CISA’s core responsibilities,” McAleenan said. “But I’d like to add that the state and local government levels, we really do need to think about the right resourcing to support our states. We’re going to have an election in 2020 with well over 90 percent of the voters casting ballots with good, auditable paper backups. But not every state is there where we need them. That’s a resourcing issue.”
DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis Under Secretary David Glawe noted that “we’re not going to be able to win this fight on the foreign adversaries who try to influence business on the homeland without a hand-in-glove relationship.”
“And it’s a new dynamic. And how we’re using the state fusion centers and partner with the FBI is critical to have that hand-in-glove information sharing on what’s their biggest risk,” he said. “And it’s not about a competitive advantage. It’s about an equal advantage with those foreign adversaries that are attacking our country through economics.”