(CNN)Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats raised the alarm on growing cyberattack threats against the United States, saying the situation is at a “critical point” and coming out forcefully against Russia.
“The warning signs are there. The system is blinking. It is why I believe we are at a critical point,” Coats said, addressing the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, on Friday.
“Today, the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack,” he said.
Coats compared the “warning signs” to those the United States faced ahead of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“It was in the months prior to September 2001 when, according to then-CIA Director George Tenet, the system is blinking red. And here we are nearly two decades later, and I’m here to say, the warning lights are blinking red again,” Coats said.
Coats said the “worst offenders” are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — with Russia the “most aggressive foreign actor, no question. And they continue their efforts to undermine our democracy.”
Every day, those countries “are penetrating our digital infrastructure and conducting a range of cyber intrusions and attacks against targets in the United States,” he said.
Some of their targets include the federal government, the US military, state and local governments, and US businesses, he said.
Coats’ comments came the same day that the Justice Department announced the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents, accusing them of engaging in a “sustained effort” to hack Democrats’ emails and computer networks during the 2016 election.
Coats referred to the indictments and alluded to upcoming election threats, but said “focusing on the potential impact of these actions,…