Almost all US networks can be hacked: Intelligence Committee

Summary:The chair of the US House Intelligence Committee has said that hackers from China and Iran are stealing not only military documents via online attacks, but also civilian intellectual property, and that the US government is just watching it happen.

The US is vulnerable to cyberattacks that could shut down financial services or destroy information that companies need for daily operations, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has said.

Mike Rogers said 95 percent of private sector networks are vulnerable, and most have already been hit.

What's being stolen? Personal identities, money from banks, blueprints for next-generation jobs. At risk are private companies and public agencies.

Some estimates put the value of information hacked at up to $US400 billion (AU$390 billion) every year. But many companies are reluctant to admit they've been attacked, to keep a competitive edge and avoid reactions from shareholders.

Rogers said that hackers have stepped up attacks since last year, and pointed to China and Iran.

"They're taking blueprints back, not just military documents, but civilian innovation that companies are gonna use to create production lines to build things," Rogers said.

"They're stealing that, repurposing it back in nations like China, and competing in the international market." Rogers told CBS that the US government has essentially "set up lawn chairs, told the burglars where the silver is ... and opened the case of beer and watched them do it".

Rogers was responsible for introducing the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in November 2011, which, if passed, would establish sharing of classified government cybersecurity information with the US private sector. It has been condemned by groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), on the basis that it would allow companies to bypass privacy laws and provide user data directly to the government.

But China's ambassador to Australia, Chen Yuming, previously told ABC's Newsline in an interview that it, too, is a target, receiving 13 percent of all cyberattacks globally.

He said that it is unfair that "other parties" failed to see China as also a victim of cyberattacks, without providing any evidence of the fact, and called their claims "unfounded".

"There are hundreds of thousands of computers in Chinese government agencies which have been attacked by cyberattackers from overseas sources."

A bipartisan bill to shore up the cyberdefences passed the US House of Representatives, but died in the Senate in the last Congress. Similar legislation could be introduced again as early as this week.

For Rogers, the fix is "very simple".

"Share information about threats online," he said.

"The senior leadership in the intelligence community said that they think that we can stop 90 percent of our problems by just sharing classified cyberthreat information."

Topics: Security, China, Government, Government : US

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