The nation's top intelligence officials told senators on Tuesday that cyberattacks are the leading security threat facing the United States, reports The Hill. Testifying at the Senate Intelligence Committee's annual hearing on worldwide threats, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers that terrorist groups are increasingly pursuing the ability to wage cyberattacks, which, if successful, could bring businesses and the government to a collapsing halt. “Our statement this year leads with cyber, and it's hard to overemphasize its significance,” said Clapper.
His statement was read on behalf of himself, FBI Director Robert Mueller, CIA Director John Brennan and National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen. While al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Hezbollah, Iran and North Korea were all addressed as serious concerns during Tuesday's open hearing, intelligence officials and lawmakers agreed cybersecurity should be the country's top focus when attempting to counter threats to the United States. In Brennan's first public remarks as head of the CIA, he pressed Congress to take up cybersecurity legislation. As President Obama's deputy national security adviser last year, Brennan worked closely with lawmakers in their failed attempts to pass a cybersecurity bill.