Chinese hackers outnumber FBI cyber staff 50 to 1, bureau director says

Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “worldwide threats,” on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 8, 2023.
Mary F. Calvert | Reuters

U.S. cyber intelligence staff is vastly outnumbered by Chinese hackers, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray told Congress as he pleaded for more money for the agency.

“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, Chinese hackers would still outnumber FBI Cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1,” Wray said in prepared remarks for a budget hearing before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Thursday.

The disclosure highlights the massive scale of cyber threats the U.S. is facing, particularly from China. Wray said the country has “a bigger hacking program than every other major nation combined and have stolen more of our personal and corporate data than all other nations—big or small—combined.”

Even so, Wray said countries like Russia, Iran and North Korea also pose significant cybersecurity concerns, on top of non-state criminal actors. The FBI is currently investigating more than 100 “ransomware variants” with “scores of victims” for each.

The agency is requesting about $63 million to help it beef up its cyber staff with 192 new positions. Wray said this would also help the FBI put more cyber staff in field offices to be closer to where victims of cyber crimes actually are.

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