Published: Aug. 7, 2011 at 4:56 PM
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell listens as U.S. President George W. Bush speaks to the media after visiting the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in McLean, Virginia, on December 8, 2008. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg)
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 (UPI) — The United States isn’t ruthless or broad enough in cybersnooping, former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said Sunday.
“All governments, sophisticated governments, run an electronic espionage effort,” McConnell said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“The [Group of Eight] are the most sophisticated. The United States has a policy of looking for adversaries who might wish us harm, military secrets, military capabilities and so on.”
The United States has a policy “of not doing economic espionage. Not all those G8 countries have the same policy. In fact they focus on economic espionage.”
McConnell’s remarks came after California-based cybersecurity company McAfee reported there were at least 70 victims of hacking — the majority in the United States — that took place over at least five years and was done by a state actor. While McAfee didn’t name the state actor, other cybersecurity experts tagged China as the likely one.
“I would describe the report as the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “It’s much worse than what was included in the McAfee report.”
He said the nation doesn’t practice what he called “cybersecurity hygiene,” such as changing passwords or configuring systems as appropriate, which would help protect it against cyberspying.
“[We’re] in a situation now where this nation state is literally bleeding the intellectual capital and innovation engine out of this country,” he said on the CNN program. “And if that persists for a long time, it’s going to take away a significant economic advantage that we have.”
McConnell said he became concerned about the issue when he was National Security Agency director under President Clinton. He said the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also realized the severity of the matter.
The Obama administration has done “many good things … but it’s not nearly enough,” McConnell said.
“It has to be significantly more enhanced than it is because as a nation, we are vulnerable,” he said.