CIA’s future will be defined by US tech race with China, director says By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The seal of the Central Intelligence Agency is displayed at the entrance to CIA headquarters in McLean, Virginia, U.S., September 24, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The future of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency will be defined by the ongoing technology race between America and China, the agency’s director, William Burns, said in a briefing on Wednesday. hearing in the Senate.

Burns’ remarks followed the release of the US Intelligence Community’s annual threat assessment, which named China the biggest national security threat facing America. The report cited China’s robust use of cyber tactics to surveil Americans, its success in stealing intellectual property, and its ability to acquire foreign technologies.

“I think the technological revolution is not just the main arena of competition with the People’s Republic of China,” Burns said. “It is also the main determinant of our future as an intelligence service.”

The CIA Director was speaking at the so-called Congressional Hearing on Global Threats, also along with other heads of the US intelligence community, including National Security Agency Director General Paul Nakasone, the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier. and Christopher Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Intelligence directors have said Beijing poses a variety of threats to US interests, including the use of hackers.

If Beijing feared that a major conflict with the United States was imminent, it would “almost certainly consider undertaking aggressive cyber operations against critical infrastructure and U.S. military assets around the world,” the report said. “Such a strike would be designed to deter U.S. military action by impeding U.S. decision-making, inducing social panic, and interfering with the deployment of U.S. forces.”

The report highlighted China’s “global expansion of tech-driven authoritarianism,” citing its aggressive efforts to control and manipulate the free flow of content globally. He also claimed that China is “almost certainly” capable of launching cyberattacks that could take down critical infrastructure services, including against oil and gas pipelines and rail systems.

Reflecting how Beijing’s security apparatus collects vast amounts of data about the health of its people, US intelligence agencies wrote that China had collected US health and genomics data through cyber breaches and of the acquisition of American companies.

General Nakasone, director of the NSA, said Chinese cyber operations have become more aggressive recently.

“When it comes to China, we are seeing an increasing risk taking that they have experienced with regard to the theft of our intellectual property, even increasing their influence operations,” Nakasone said. “These are concerning efforts for us.”

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