Director Discusses FBI Approach to Cyber Threats at RSA Conference

FBI Director Christopher Wray was interviewed by the Brookings Institution's Susan Hennessey at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on March 5. This video provides highlights from the full discussion.


Video Transcript

My view is that today’s cyber threat is bigger than any one government agency, frankly, bigger than government itself. But I think no agency brings the same combination of scope and scale, experience, tools, relationships that the FBI has.

In everything we do, as long as I have anything to say about it, we’re going to follow the facts independently, wherever they may lead, to whomever they may lead, no matter who likes it. And that means when we find somebody who’s committing federal crimes, against Americans, or American businesses, we’re going to after them. And I don’t really care what some foreign government has to say about it.

I will say that one of the things that hackers, of all shapes and sizes, prize the most in this world is anonymity and stealth and deniability. And by indicting them publicly, among other things, we strip them of that.

I would argue that in the cyber arena, the need for private sector partnership is higher than really anywhere else of any program we have.  So, the reality is we couldn’t do what we do without the private sector, and vice versa.

You know that since October, our special agent recruiting, we have more special agent applicants since October than we had in all of the prior year, which shows a significant uptick in the enthusiasm that people have about wanting to dedicate their careers, and put their lives on the line, working for the FBI. But it’s not just agents, you know, we’re recruiting computer scientists, data analysts, engineers. The youth of America, we got a thriving economy out there, and we had the highest number of intern applicants out of college that we’ve ever had. And our selection rate, both for special agents and for interns, is between 5 and 6 percent, which for those keeping score, is more selective than most Ivy League schools.

We’re dealing with the most sophisticated, toughest cyber actors in the world, and if you want the ability to take on those people, to be on the front lines of that battle, dealing with incredibly cutting-edge technology, but also dealing with the most formidable adversaries who are trying to destabilize this country, destabilize our companies, hurt American citizens, you’d be in the right place.

What happens is when people get a taste of the mission. When you can say, I get up in the morning to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution, it keeps people coming back. And I will stack our workforce up against anybody, anywhere, any day.

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