The FBI and other federal agencies are painfully aware of the risk of cyber attacks, including threats from terrorist organizations

The FBI is cautious of potential cyber attacks from organized terror groups, noting the increasing use of the internet to spread their messages.

Beyond simply spreading propaganda, U.S. authorities are worried that terrorists may aim to disrupt U.S. infrastructure by using cyber attacks. Furthermore, without the direct capability to carry out their own attacks, terrorists could look to work with hacker groups or foreign governments.

During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee earlier in the week, FBI Director Robert Mueller had this to say, "While to date terrorists have not used the Internet to launch a full-scale cyber attack, we cannot underestimate their intent. At the point in time of an intrusion, you don't know whether it's going to be a country, a terrorist or the 18-year-old kid down the block."

After the subcommittee concluded, Mueller spoke with Senators about the cyber risks currently facing the United States. The closed-door meeting likely focused on potential targets foreign terror groups would like to compromise, including the U.S. power grid, banking institutions, and government servers.

White House National Security Adviser John Brennan has worked with security analysts seeking more cooperation between the government and the US private sector. Government secrets are always at risk of online theft, but US companies face corporate espionage and costly downtime when targeted by cyber attacks.

The U.S. government has been on higher alert of foreign threats, growing weary of attacks from Chinese cyber forces looking to compromise western technologies.  Iran also claimed it hacked a downed U.S. drone, while splintered groups of hackers are suspected of operating for the Russian government.

To battle such a major threat, there are multiple competing bills aimed towards enhancing a still lackluster US cyber security force.

Under the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, the Department of Homeland Security would be given more influence in the development and testing of cyber initiatives. Threat assessment and information reporting would be covered by the SECURE IT Act, while the National Information Sharing Organization would include guidelines for more fluid cooperation between federal agencies.

However, partisan bickering from the Democrats and Republicans negatively influences the government's cyber security efforts.

Sources: CNN, The Info Boom

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