FBI chief says China has bigger hacking program than the competition combined

Scenes outside of the FBI building in Washington

By Raphael Satter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Beijing has a cyberespionage program so vast that it is bigger than all of its major competitors combined, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray told a conference on Monday.


U.S. officials have been sounding the alarm about Chinese hackers for years. But even after decades of handwringing over the theft of American secrets, Wray's comments were unusually stark.


"China already has a bigger hacking program than every other major nation combined," Wray said. "If each one of the FBI's cyber agents and intelligence analysts focused on China exclusively, Chinese hackers would still outnumber our cyber personnel by at least 50 to 1."


Beijing's embassy in Washington did not immediately return a message seeking comment, but China has repeatedly denied using hackers to spy on the United States. Last month the embassy said that American officials and media frequently "hyped up" allegations of China-linked espionage.


*Wray was speaking at mWISE, a Washington conference hosted by Mandiant, the cybersecurity company bought in 2022 by Alphabet's Google Inc.

*His comments follow a spate of high-profile hacks blamed on China, including the recent theft of hundreds of thousands of emails from senior U.S. government officials.

*Mandiant Chief Executive Kevin Mandia told Reuters at the conference that Chinese hackers were increasingly among the best spies out there. "The top innovator on offense is China," he said.

(Reporting by Raphael Satter; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)