Thursday, February 18, 2016

Director of National Intelligence Visits USNA for Cyber Lecture Series

By Brian Murphy, ODNI Public Affairs

James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, participated in the U.S. Naval Academy’s Cyber Lecture Series at Alumni Hall, in Annapolis, Md., Jan. 29.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper participates
USNA's Cyber Lecture Series in Alumni Hall
(Photo by Brian Murphy, ODNI Public Affairs)

During the event, Clapper delivered his remarks to more than 1,100 midshipmen currently enrolled in the academy's two mandatory cyber security courses.  The lectures are coordinated through the USNA Center for Cyber Security Studies, and are used to augment the cyber education experience for all midshipmen, particularly those majoring in Cyber Operations.  The recently established Cyber Science Department will graduate its first class of Cyber majors in May.

“This afternoon, knowing I’m talking to a room full of future intelligence customers, I want to discuss the big picture on the threats to our nation, get into some specifics of cyber security, talk about service to our nation and try to throw in a few sea stories," Clapper said.

According to Clapper, the biggest threat to national security in 2016 isn’t what many people might guess.

“A lot of people find this surprising in our post-9/11 world, but in 2013, ‘cyber’ bumped ‘terrorism’ out of the top spot on our list of national threats,” said Clapper. “And cyber has led our report every year since then.”

Cyber doesn’t top the national threats list because of the threat of some massive, Armageddon-scale strike that would debilitate the entire U.S. infrastructure, he added.

"Our primary concern is low-to-moderate-level cyber intrusions from a variety of sources which will continue and probably expand," Clapper said. "They impose increasing costs to our businesses, to U.S. economic competitiveness and to national security."

DNI James R. Clapper meets with Midshipman 1st Class Thomas Wester prior to a
speaking engagement in USNA's Alumni Hall, in Annapolis, Md., Jan. 29.
(Photo by Brian Murphy, ODNI Public Affairs)

Due to the country’s heavy dependence on the Internet, nearly all information-communication technologies – as well as IT networks and systems – will be perpetually at risk, Clapper added.

Additionally, cyber threats to U.S. national and economic security are increasing in frequency, scale, sophistication and severity of impact.

“The U.S. Intelligence Community is working to help our national leaders understand that threat, so that they can take action,” Clapper said.

Because of the difficult nature of this mission, the DNI explained the importance of having “the best minds of our nation working this range of cyber problems.”

“The cyber threat is here. It’s upon us now and we need the people here today to help us defend our systems and our nation,” said Clapper.

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