Senator Chuck Grassley. (file photo)

From spying on the Pentagon to trying to change the course of elections, cyber-criminals are seen as a growing and significant threat.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says members of Congress are doing their best to remain vigilant on multiple fronts. “Every day there are reports, yesterday it was about Russians, but who knows?” Grassley says. “It could be Bulgaria, it could be Romania, it could be North Korea, it could be China. You read about China all the time, probably trying to get our military secrets.”

This afternoon, Grassley will take part in a hearing before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism on cyber threats to our nation’s critical infrastructure. “We have oversight of so many things dealing with voting that it’s a concern of my committee,” Grassley says, “and so we’re pursuing it.” Hackers who could gain access to computers in the Department of Defense create a very obvious threat, but Grassley says online criminals who try to shift the course of an election are dealing in a different kind of warfare.

“Americans, at least from the standpoint of influencing elections or challenging our democracy, Americans ought to be certain that we don’t have that sort of outside influence,” Grassley says. “Changing votes would be the worst thing that could probably happen.” It comes down to political ideology, according to Iowa’s senior senator.

“These autocracies that most of these people operate out of, they don’t like democracies,” Grassley says, “so they want to discourage your confidence in our representative form of government and our Constitution.”

Today’s hearing is scheduled for 1:30 P.M./Central time. Grassley says it will be the 7th full committee or subcommittee hearing on election protection.