"We think the cyberthreat is increasing almost exponentially… The scale of this is something I don’t think this country has ever seen anything quite like it. And it is going to get much worse," Wray said in testimony to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
He added that the FBI probes a hundred different ransomware variants with each having "dozens, if not hundreds of victims."
"The total volume of amounts paid in ransomware I think has tripled over the last year," Wray told lawmakers. "And that is just ransomware… We obviously investigate scores and scores and scores of nation-state intrusions and other kinds of cybercriminal attacks."
He accused Russia of pursuing a state-sponsored cybercampaign against the US and refused to discuss in an open setting "the degree of nexus" between the Russian government and cybercriminals allegedly operating from the country, including Darkside, a group blamed for a ransomware attack that briefly shut down a key American fuel pipeline.
Wray claimed that "perhaps not coincidentally" Darkside specifically targets English-speaking victims.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Thursday that ransomware cyberattacks are incomparable to 9/11 events clarifying his previous public statements.
"I don’t think any attack - ransomware or January 6 [Capitol unrest] - can fairly be compared to the horror of September 11 and... three thousand or so individuals who lost their lives," Wray said in a testimony to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Earlier this month, Wray told the Wall Street Journal the FBI investigates about 100 different types of ransomware, many tracing back to hackers allegedly based in Russia, and compared them to the challenge posed by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"My reference to September 11… was not about the attack, but about how the country came together in response," he told lawmakers.
Most high-profile attacks targeted Colonial Pipeline and meat-producing giant JBS, forcing both US companies to briefly suspend operations and transferred millions of dollars to hackers in exchange for encryption keys. Wray reiterated that the FBI policy and guidance remains not to pay ransoms.