Updated Apr 27, 2023, 5:29pm EDT
securitytechNorth America

Chinese hackers outnumber FBI cyber agents by 'at least 50 to 1': FBI director

Christpher Wray
Sarah Silbiger/Pool via REUTERS

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FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday outlined the extent of China's hacking program, saying that their hackers outnumber the FBI's cyber agents "by at least 50 to 1."

"To give you a sense of what we’re up against, if each one of the FBI’s cyber agents and intel analysts focused exclusively on the China threat — on nothing but China — Chinese hackers would still outnumber FBI cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1," Wray testified in a House Appropriations Committee hearing.

He said that China has stolen more personal and corporate data from the U.S. than all other nations combined.

"Today’s cyber threats are more pervasive, hit a wider variety of victims, and carry the potential for greater damage than ever before," Wray said. "You can take China. A key part of the Chinese government’s multi-pronged strategy to lie, to cheat and to steal their way to surpassing us as the global superpower in cyber."

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Wray said that while China's threat was "unparalleled," countries like North Korea, Iran, and Russia were also some of the biggest culprits. He added that many of these attacks targeted infrastructure and services that "ordinary Americans rely on every day," including schools, 911 call centers, and hospitals.

Wray pressed lawmakers for an additional $63 million in funding which he said would help employ 200 more FBI cyber agents.

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Wray's warning comes more than two months after a U.S. intelligence report found that China is the "broadest, most active, and persistent cyber espionage threat to U.S. Government and private-sector networks."

The China threat has also become a rare bipartisan point of consensus, with politicians on both sides of the aisles raising the alarm on the data China could collect via popular apps like TikTok and Shein. Last month, a House committee grilled TikTok's CEO on the risks the app poses to the American public.

The Pentagon is also preparing for an escalation in hackings, with the recent high-profile leaks revealing that military officials believe Chinese hackers will "probably" be able to breach firewalls to certain U.S. government networks within five years.


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