A top IT government official on Wednesday said China poses the biggest cyber threat to the U.S.
Speaking at a cybersecurity summit, Federal Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Grant Schneider said China has the “capacity and the capability and the intent” to work against the U.S. in cyberspace more so than other countries.
China is “an adversary that has displayed their intent, has clear means to get into and attack our critical infrastructure systems, our government systems, you name it, both from an intellectual property theft point of view, as well as an espionage point of view,” Schneider said at the 10th annual Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.
He added that American dependence on information technology systems only compounds the potential security vulnerabilities that countries like China could exploit and emphasized that threats to networks have evolved.
“It’s really the nation-state actor, and the one particular nation state with the capacity and the capability, and the intent is really the one that concerns me the most,” Schneider said.
Schneider’s comments come amid President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE's escalating trade war with China. The yearlong dispute has at times focused on potential security issues regarding Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.
The Trump administration cited national security concerns when it blocked U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei, one of the largest telecom products providers in the world. The U.S. has also put pressure on allies not to allow Huawei into their 5G wireless networks.
Schneider spoke on a panel alongside former Federal CISO Gen. Gregory Touhill, who also discussed the key cyber threats to the U.S.
While Touhill did not mention China, he emphasized that cyber risks to critical infrastructure and vulnerabilities posed by the increasing amount of Internet of Things devices, or any product with the ability to connect to the internet, as potential security problems.
“The advent of the Internet of Things continues to expand the risk of exposure, and the price of entry for somebody to engage in malicious mischief and criminal activity, the price for them is pretty low,” Touhill said. “I see the threat landscape continuing to expand, the risk exposure continuing to be high.”
The role of federal CISO was created in 2016, with Touhill serving as the first federal CISO until January 2017. Schneider served as acting federal CISO until he was appointed to the position by Trump in 2018.