Private sector key in cyber war: FBI chief

Private sector key in cyber war: FBI chief
The Federal Bureau of Investigation crest on August 3, 2007 in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON - The United States is at greater risk than ever from cyber threats, and must work closely with private industry to safeguard the nation's security, the FBI's new director James Comey said on Thursday.

"Private sector companies are the primary victims of cyber-intrusions and they also possess the information, the expertise and the knowledge to address cyber-intrusions," Comey said at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We intend to build more bridges to the private sector in the cyber-security realm," Comey said in his first congressional testimony as FBI director.

Comey, who was confirmed to the top FBI post in July, told the Senate panel that in the future "resources devoted to cyber-based threats will equal - or even eclipse - the resources devoted to non-cyber-based terrorist threats."

"We must fuse private-sector information with information from the intelligence community and develop channels for sharing information and intelligence quickly and effectively," Comey added, calling private industry "the key player in cyber-security."

Comey also urged Congress to "create incentives for private sector to collaborate" with government security efforts because currently "they're concerned they could end up being sued" by private citizens if their information is released.

"Just as our adversaries continue to evolve, so, too, must the FBI," said Comey.

"We live in a time of acute and persistent terrorist and criminal threats to our national security, our economy, and to our communities," the FBI director said.

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