The likelihood that the US will suffer from a “catastrophic” cyber attack is unlikely, the nation’s top intelligence officer said Thursday. Instead, the country will be peppered with “low-to-moderate level cyber attacks,” James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“Cyber threats to US national and economic security are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication, and severity of impact,” according to the “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” (PDF) report that Clapper presented to lawmakers. “Rather than a ‘Cyber Armageddon’ scenario that debilitates the entire US infrastructure, we envision something different. We foresee an ongoing series of low-to-moderate level cyber attacks from a variety of sources over time, which will impose cumulative costs on US economic competitiveness and national security.”
Listing cyber attacks as the leading threat to national security over terrorism, the report said the government’s “unclassified” IT systems supporting military, commercial, and social activities “remain vulnerable to espionage and/or disruption.” The top nation-states where the threats are coming from include China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, the report said.
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