The Increasing Importance of Private Sector Support in Securing U.S. Infrastructure, According to FBI Director Christopher Wray

FBI Director Emphasizes Private Sector Support in Securing U.S. Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – FBI Director Christopher Wray highlighted the increasing reliance on private sector assistance to ensure the security of U.S. infrastructure. Speaking at Mandiant’s mWise Conference in Washington, Wray addressed a room full of analysts and cybersecurity professionals, stating that distinguishing cybercriminal activity from adversarial nation-state activity has become more challenging. Mandiant, which is owned by Google, hosted the conference.

Wray and the FBI have actively worked with international and domestic law enforcement agencies to disrupt ransomware infrastructure and groups. Notable successes include targeting the Qakbot botnet and the Hive ransomware group. Wray expressed concerns over China’s employment of artificial intelligence in cyber intelligence operations, suggesting that it could enhance their hacking capabilities. He also emphasized the significant numerical advantage of Chinese hackers over FBI cyber and intelligence agents, estimating a ratio of at least 50 to 1.

Wray stated, “Criminals and hostile governments are already exploiting the technology,” and warned about Chinese state-affiliated groups engaging in influence campaigns on major social networks. Additionally, North Korean hacking groups aim to generate revenue for the government while conducting espionage activities, while Russian hackers have targeted businesses worldwide for ransom and have attacked infrastructure in Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

The FBI Director emphasized the growing difficulty in distinguishing cybercriminal activity from adversarial nation-state activity, such as identifying “hackers who are profit-minded criminals by day and state-sponsored by night.” While government efforts, including those from the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Agency, have been effective, Wray stressed the importance of collaborative public-private partnerships in identifying and mitigating threats.

Wray acknowledged that private sector reluctance to cooperate with federal law enforcement has been a challenge, but he commended Colonial Pipeline’s swift response to a cyberattack in 2021. By engaging with Mandiant, Colonial facilitated effective information sharing with the government, enabling the FBI to rapidly identify the cybercriminals behind the attack.

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