(NETWORK IN) Terrorism and cyber meddling by Russia and other countries are some of the biggest threats to America and to national security, said former Indiana senator and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, when testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.
“We currently face the most complex, volatile and challenging threat in modern times,” said Coats. “The risk of interstate conflict is higher than any time since the end of the Cold War.”
Coats said some of the conflict is coming from a race for technological superiority, which could include the ability to build and use superior weapons, but also includes threats like cyber terrorism and election meddling.
“From U.S. businesses to the federal government to state and local governments, we are under cyber attack,” said Coats.
One of the main attackers, according to Coats, is Russia.
“We assess that Russia is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive cyber attacks, with the intent to degrading our democratic values and weakening our alliances. Persistent and disruptive cyber and influence operations will continue against the United States and European nations and other allies, using elections as opportunities to undermine democracy, sew discord and undermine our values.”
Coats said you can expect to hear about continued cyber threats from North Korea, China and enemies in the Middle East.
Coats added that weapons of mass destruction threats from countries like Russia and North Korea continue to be threats, with North Korea as the “most volatile threat” this year, with Russia as the “most capable”.
He said WMDs weren’t the only weapons to be worried about.
“State and non-state actors, including the Syrian regime and ISIS possess, and in some cases, have used chemical weapons in Syrian and Iraq and we continue to be concerned about other actors’ pursuit of biological weapons,” said Coats.
Coats also said ISIS is picking up the pieces and trying to expand after some territorial losses in Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. He said Al Qaeda and Hezbollah remain big threats to American security in the region, while the U.S. should look out for home grown terrorists as some of the largest domestic threats.