Christopher Wray FBI
Image: House Appropriations Committee / YouTube

China’s hackers outnumber FBI cyber staff ‘at least 50 to 1,’ Wray tells Congress

FBI Director Christopher Wray asked lawmakers Thursday for additional money for fighting cyberthreats in next year’s budget, noting that the bureau faces a stark imbalance against China in particular.

“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,” he said in prepared remarks for a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

For fiscal 2024, the FBI wants to add 192 positions for fighting cyberthreats, “including 31 Special Agents, 8 Intelligence Analysts, and 153 Professional Staff,” according to a summary from the bureau. Those positions would be part of a $63.4 million bump “to enhance cyber information-sharing abilities and increase cyber tools and capacities.”

The bureau also wants an extra $27.2 million, including four new positions, ”to help protect internal FBI networks."

Recent incidents attributed to Chinese-speaking hackers include an espionage operation against a nonprofit, data exfiltration from South Korean institutions and a troll farm campaign that produced disinformation and harassed dissidents.

Wray also spoke about the size of the overall playing field for the FBI’s cyber teams.

“We’re investigating over 100 different ransomware variants, each with scores of victims, as well as a host of other novel threats posed by both cybercriminals and nation-state actors — in addition to China, countries like Russia, Iran, and North Korea,” the director testified. “And it’s getting more and more challenging to discern where the nation-state threat ends and the cybercriminal threat begins.”

In its summary of the budget request, the FBI touted its cooperation with international partners in taking down Genesis Market earlier this month and the Hive ransomware gang in January.

“In total, we took over 1,000 actions against cyber adversaries in 2022, to include arrests, criminal charges, convictions, dismantlements, and disruptions, and enabled many more actions through our dedicated partnerships with the private sector, foreign partners, and with Federal, state, and local entities,” the summary said.

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Joe Warminsky

Joe Warminsky

is the news editor for Recorded Future News. He has more than 25 years experience as an editor and writer in the Washington, D.C., area. Most recently he helped lead CyberScoop for more than five years. Prior to that, he was a digital editor at WAMU 88.5, the NPR affiliate in Washington, and he spent more than a decade editing coverage of Congress for CQ Roll Call.