Cyberattacks are an “enormous” threat to U.S. national and economic security, said retired Army general and former Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus.
“When you look at the massive theft of personal data, the massive theft of intellectual property, the damage done to business by denial of service attacks,” Petraeus, an executive at private-equity firm KKR & Co., said on the “Wall Street Week” television program. “This is a big, big challenge to our country.”
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management disclosed on June 4 that computer hackers had stolen employment data on 4 million government employees. U.S. investigators estimate that the theft may include information on as many as 14 million people.
U.S. officials are concerned that the hackers accessed databases that included background checks for national security clearances, including forms providing personal histories, foreign travel, arrests, drug and alcohol use and other details that could be used foreign intelligence operatives for blackmail or recruitment.
Petraeus is the chairman of the KKR Global Institute, an internal think-tank, which analyzes geopolitical, macroeconomic, trade and technology trends to better inform investment decisions.
The former four-star general, who led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he fears that cyberattacks will be a more serious problem five years from now.
“There’s no question that the industrial-strength threat emanates from China,” he said, adding that Syria and Russia also pose dangers. Operating systems in the U.S. electrical grid and water systems are vulnerable, he said. The federal government needs to spend more to strengthen the cybersecurity of U.S. infrastructure, he said.
Turning to energy, Petraeus said that a nuclear deal with Iran that leads to the lifting of sanctions could add another 1 million to 1.5 million barrels of oil a day to the global market within nine to 15 months. Aggregate supply will continue to outpace aggregate demand, leading to lower prices.
In April, Petraeus was sentenced by a federal magistrate judge to two years probation and ordered to pay a $100,000 for giving classified material to Paula Broadwell, his biographer with whom he had an extramarital affair.
“Wall Street Week” is produced by SkyBridge Media, an affiliate of SkyBridge Capital, the fund-of-funds business founded by Anthony Scaramucci. SkyBridge, which sometimes has other business relationships with the shows participants, advertisers and sponsors, pays Fox stations in key markets to broadcast the show and also streams it online every Sunday at 11 a.m. in New York.
--With assistance from Chris Strohm and Michael Riley in Washington.
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