Russia and China are capable of launching cyberattacks that could disrupt electric grids and gas pipelines in the US, according to a new government report the intelligence community delivered to the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.
The yearly Worldwide Threat Assessment report shows that the two nations pose the greatest threat for espionage and cyberattacks.
According to one warning in the report, "China has the ability to launch cyberattacks that cause localized, temporary disruptive effects on critical infrastructure — such as disruption of a natural gas pipeline for days to weeks — in the United States."
The report also says that Moscow is staging cyberattack assets to disrupt or damage US civilian and military infrastructure during a crisis.
In addition, intelligence officials say Russia has its eye on the 2020 US presidential election and will likely try once again to influence the process using social media and other means.
"Our adversaries and strategic competitors probably already are looking to the 2020 US elections as an opportunity to advance their interests," the report read. "Russia's social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities, and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians."
In those same hearings, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said North Korea and the Islamic State are still viable threats to the nation as well.
The intelligence chief said despite the North's promises to get rid of its nuclear weapons, the rogue nation is unlikely to dismantle its arsenal.
"Our assessment is bolstered by our observations of some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization," he told lawmakers, noting the regime views "nuclear weapons as critical" to its survival.
And regarding the Middle East, he said ISIS is still a deadly terrorist threat.
"While ISIS is nearing territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria, the group has returned to its guerrilla warfare roots while continuing to plot attacks and direct its supporters worldwide," he said.
The news comes as the US plans to pull troops out of Syria. With that in mind, the report notes that Bashar al Assad's government is much less prone to prioritize removing the jihadist army from its territory.
"The regime is unlikely to immediately focus on clearing ISIS from remote areas that do not threaten key military, economic, and transportation infrastructure, judging from previous regime counter-ISIS efforts," the report reads.