The nation's top intelligence officer sounded the alarm on persistent Russian cyberattacks and the threat enemy hackers pose to the United States on Friday, the same day special counsel Robert Mueller announced the indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers.
What are the details?
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, explained during an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington that the rate at which foreign actors are attacking U.S. cyber infrastructure is similar to warnings the U.S. received on terrorism prior to the 9/11 attacks.
"The warning lights are blinking red again," Coats said, according to the New York Times. "Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack."
Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Coats said the Russian government was directly responsible for the cyberattacks. He said the U.S. has experienced sophisticated attacks on cyber-systems in the energy, nuclear, water, and manufacturing sectors.
"These actions are persistent, they are pervasive and they are meant to undermine America’s democracy," he said.
Coats also expressed frustration with the U.S. government's cyberspace strategy, which he said emphasizes defense. Instead, Coats suggested the U.S. employ an offensive strategy similar to the Reagan administration's cold-war Russia strategy. If Russia is determined to attack the U.S. in cyberspace, then the U.S. should "throw everything we have got into it," Coats said.
The former Republican senator's comments came just days ahead of President Donald Trump's much anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Coats said that if it were him meeting with the Russian leader, then he would make it clear the U.S. knows Russia is responsible for the cyberattacks and further attacks will not be tolerated.
Trump said Friday he will address Russian "meddling" with Putin.
What is the government doing to prevent further attacks?
Obviously, Coats did not divulge details about U.S. cyber-defense systems, but stressed the Department of Homeland Security and FBI are working with states to help them secure their midterm elections.