America was told it needs to follow the UK’s lead and establish a national cyber centre if is to beat increasing threats from Russia, senior FBI and NSA officials said.
It comes as the Trump Presidency continues to reel under pressure from the hacking scandal, with claims that his associates may have communicated with Russian operatives to damage Hillary Clinton’s election campaign.
Russia now poses the most sophisticated nation-state cyber threat, and was “using organised crime to carry out attacks”, said Richard Ledgett, the National Security Agency’s number two official.
Russia was using 'organised crime to carry out attacks', says Ledgett
The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland, USA
Mr Ledgett revealed that during one cyber attack, foreign government hackers found breaking into a government security network waged “hand to hand combat” with NSA cyber defenders.
Once we detected them, instead of disappearing, they fought back
Richard Ledgett – National Security Agency
“Once we detected them, instead of disappearing, they fought back,” he told an Aspen Institute think tank.
Proof that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and leaked data to sway last year’s election outcome was “irrefutable”, he added.
Agreeing the US would face the same threat during next year’s mid-term elections and again in 2020, he said: “This is a trend, going back to the Cold War days. It’s about getting info like DNC data to help shape public opinion.
Britain’s has recently opened a new National Cyber Security Centre as part of GCHQ The biggest cyber-attacks, hacks and data breaches Wed, March 15, 2017
From viruses to data breaches, cyber-crime is far from a modern invention – here is Express.co.uk's list of some of the biggest attacks in history.
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Google's Chinese operations were targeted in 2009
"It’s hard to detect and hard to defend against.”
Asked whether the US should copy Britain’s new National Cyber Security Centre, opened recently as part of GCHQ, Paul Abbate, the FBI assistant director in charge of the cyber crime, said: “We should look at the model of our close partners the UK.” Last week FBI Director James Comey announced a formal investigation into president Trump’s campaign ties with Russia.
"FBI sources have said this centres around the President’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is said to have secretly worked for Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to advance Russian interests.
Alex Ward, of the Atlantic Council think tank, said: “We have this massive breakdown in decorum, with both sides throwing accusations. Whatever the truth of these claims, Vladimir Putin is having the best year of his political life.”