Privacy protection, and the debate about whether to house information-sharing programs in a civilian or military agency, dominated three congressional hearings on cybersecurity this week.
In separate hearings Tuesday in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Armed Services Committee, leaders of the intelligence community called cyberattacks the greatest threat to the U.S. at this time—but admitted that the kinds of catastrophic attacks imagined by reporters and cyber experts were only a "remote" possibility in the near future.
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a dire warning that cyber is the nation's leading threat—but then conceded that there is only a "remote chance of a major cyberattack against US critical infrastructure systems during the next two years." Meanwhile, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA)and of the Defense Department's Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, joined Clapper in warning about the urgency of the threat in his testimony before the Armed Services Committee, but did say that none of the attacks so far constitute acts of war. Rather, they've only been corporate espionage or theft of international property, which are squarely within the criminal realm and not military defense.