Friday, February 10, 2012, 7:44 PM
File PhotoGRAND RAPIDS — The growing threat of cyber attacks against the federal government and United States-based companies by China is the country’s greatest national security challenge moving forward, says Congressman Mike Rogers.
“I have never seen in my lifetime a nation state that invests its intelligence and military services in the organized theft of intellectual property like the Chinese have done and are doing,” said Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
“It is exponentially worse this year, and will be exponentially worse next year because of their growing capability.”
Rogers, R-Brighton, spoke to a private group of people invited by the Seidman College of Business on Friday morning at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids.
A former FBI agent, Rogers touched briefly on a wide-range of national security threats he’s privy to as chair of the 20-person committee with oversight of the executive branch’s intelligence services and their collective $80 billion annual budget.
From nuclear proliferation concerns in North Korea to “organized crime gangs on steroids” roving through northern Mexican states, “the world is still a very dangerous place,” said Rogers, who advocated for renewed investment in the intelligence community and a return to space missions scrapped with the shuttle program.
“One of my concerns is this notion that we can just kind of hunker down and build up fences and everything is going to be fine,” he said.
“That world is gone — if it were ever here. We need to engage.”
He criticized the Afghanistan drawdown timetable for transitioning American troops from a combat role to a “training, assist and advice” role by late 2013 as “not only wrong but dangerous” because it gives the Taliban a date to rally around.
“We have done a horrible thing by telling the Iranians, ‘you’re winning the region, we’re losing, we’re packing up,’” he said, calling Iran a proxy in Iraq who have become emboldened enough in recent years to plot the assignation of a Saudi ambassador by blowing up a Washington D.C. restaurant, an attack foiled last year.
Rogers also criticized the Obama Administration’s policy on Israel as “rattling our relationship” with the Jewish state after the president’s May ‘1967 borders’ speech, where Obama declared the borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war should be the basis of a deal to break the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stalemate.
Rogers warned that a “catastrophic cyber-attack in the United States” was being foretold by the intelligence community before the end of 2013, which could have devastating effects on our financial and manufacturing sectors as well as our infrastructure grid.
“It’s coming. Are we ready for it? I can tell you we are not.”
Rogers, who in November launched an investigation into possible threats posed by Chinese-owned telecommunications companies working in the United States, said he’s sponsoring a bill that would allow the government to share the “secret sauce” with the private sector when they see malicious code coming, by creating a way for companies to get security clearances so the government could share certain information.
The National Security Agency knows about threats "that they cannot share with us because they’ve collected (that information) in a classified manner,” he said. “We think this gives us a fighting chance on some of the malicious code we know is out there and not being used today.”
Rogers said there are more than 100,000 attempted cyber-attacks against the Central Intelligence Agency computer network every day and that’s just one intelligence service out of about a dozen in the federal government.
“Imagine if they want your intellectual property,” he said. “Name an IT person in the world in the private sector, at a small, medium or large sized company, that can withstand attempts like that every single day.”
“Something is going to get through,” he said. “That’s the problem.”
He suggested the value of intellectual property being stolen every year by Chinese-based cyber theft as high as $1 trillion. He said China is “actively pursuing” intellectual property on all American, European and Asian allies networks. They lurk on a network for years until something looks ready to steal, he said, and then reap the rewards.
“We will have an artificial competitor that invested not one dime in research and development, but has all the benefit of that innovation that they can apply to the marketplace,” he said.
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