Jeh Johnson: 'Time Will Tell' Whether US Comes Under Chinese Cyberattack

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Lauren Victoria Burke/AP File Photo

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Johnson said he has recently met with senior Chinese officials to discuss pulling back cyber intrusions and cybercrime.

It's unclear whether the U.S. can expect further cyberattacks from China, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday. 

Addressing an audience in Washington at The Atlantic and Aspen Institute's Washington Ideas Forum, Johnson said he recently met with senior Chinese officials to discuss pulling back cyber-intrusions and cybercrime, but "time will tell whether or not the Chinese live up to" those discussions.

“Everything is still on the table and we reserve the right to, and will consider appropriate actions in response to what we believe are attacks from any state actor or any bad actor," he said. "But we did agree to a lot, on paper, including a ministerial-level discussion routine between me and the attorney general on our side, and the Chinese officials on their side going forward. And time will tell whether or not they're going to comply with what they committed to do on paper."

The federal government routinely blocks thousands of infiltration attempts, but "we’ve got to cover even more of the federal agencies," Johnson added.

"We’ve go to go after the bad actors who we don't necessarily recognize the first instance . . . We're getting there, it's a work in progress, it is not where we need to be now, but one of my personal agendas while I'm secretary is a very aggressive timetable for concrete improvements to our federal civilian dot-gov," Johnson added.

Johnson has directed his staff to install at least some parts of systems that can monitor, identify and block cyber intrusions across the entire federal government by the end of this calendar year. Currently, these systems are installed in about half the civilian workforce, he said.