4. North Korea: A perennial diplomatic bad actor, North Korea has already rattled its sabers at the opening of the Obama administration. Pyongyang elevated its hostile rhetoric toward South Korea and, U.S. officials in Washington suspect, may be preparing to launch a new missile. Kim Jong Il's 67th birthday comes in early March, and North Korean trucks have been spotted carrying two stages of a Taepodong-2 missile to a launch facility on the country's eastern shore, according to South Korean news reports. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to the region for a week of talks with China, Japan, Indonesia, and South Korea.
Blair said that the North was unlikely to use its nuclear weapons in an offensive capacity but would rely on the arsenal as a deterrent. He said that while intelligence analysts don't expect Pyongyang to export completed devices, there is concern over proliferation of nuclear and ballistic missiles technology. "Some in the intelligence community have increasing concerns that North Korea has an ongoing covert uranium enrichment program," he said.
5. Computer security: The digital realm continues to be a weak spot for technologically advanced nations. "A growing array of state and nonstate adversaries are increasingly targeting—for exploitation and potentially disruption or destruction—our information infrastructure, including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems, and embedded processors and controllers in critical industries," Blair told the senators. "A successful cyber attack against a major financial service provider could severely impact the national economy, while cyberattacks against physical infrastructure computer systems such as those that control power grids or oil refineries have the potential to disrupt services for hours to weeks."
But his concerns were not solely focused on dramatic hacking attacks. "Malicious activity on the Internet also is rapidly increasing: spam—unsolicited E-mail that can contain malicious software—now accounts for 81 percent of all E-mail. . . . The total cost of spam and all of the types of fraud that take advantage of spam's impact is $42 billion in the U.S. and $140 billion worldwide last year," he said. In addition, global companies may have lost over $1 trillion worth of intellectual property to data theft in 2008.