State-supported hackers are sure to be a “major threat” to the U.S. government in years to come, according to U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in the agency’s annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment.” Coats said the U.S. can reasonably expect Russia to continue and step up its efforts to influence elections in the United States and throughout the world.
In a prepared statement for the Senate Intelligence Committee, Coats affirmed previous intelligence community certainty that Russian officials at the highest level were behind coordinated efforts to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election. Coats predicted that similar “influence operations” will be run in the U.S., in Europe, and around the world in years to come.
“In 2017, Russia is likely to be more assertive in global affairs, more unpredictable in its approach to the United States, and more authoritarian in its approach to domestic politics,” Coats said.
Coats was joined in his presentation to the Senate Intelligence Committee by the directors of other U.S. intelligence agencies, including CIA director Mike Pompeo and NSA director Mike Rogers. Andrew McCabe, who has been acting director of the FBI since James Comey was fired on May 9, was also in attendance. It was McCabe’s first public appearance in his new role.
When senators asked if he promised to inform the committee of efforts to interfere with the FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling and possible Trump-campaign collusion, McCabe responsed, “I absolutely do.”
Coats’s 26-page report covered a variety of global challenges in addition to Russian hacking. High-profile challenges like the actions of global trouble spots were included along with the potential for America’s adversaries to weaponize genome-editing technology and the rise of artificial intelligence.