Addressing the Senate's homeland security committee, FBI director James B. Cooney said dealing with the cyber threat would require collaborations not only with other police agencies but with the private sector as well.
In a statement released by the FBI, Cooney said the private sector, the primary victim of cyber intrusions, was key to dealing with cyber-crime. He said businesses "possess the information, the expertise and the knowledge" to address the issue.
"The FBI must continue to develop and deploy creative solutions in order to defeat today's complex cyber threat actors," Cooney said. "Instead of just building better defenses, we must also build better relationships, overcoming the obstacles that prevent us from sharing information and, most importantly, collaborating."
An FBI initiative, the Enduring Security Framework, includes top leaders in the private sector and the federal government, he added.
Cooney presented an overview of the agency's engagement with agencies around the world that he said reflected the "complexity and breadth" of its current mission.
He said the detection and disruption of terrorist groups remained the FBI's "top priority."
Domestic terrorists such as the Boston Marathon bombing suspects are a "unique challenge," Cooney said, because they don't share common profiles. Overseas terrorist groups were "ever-changing," with the agency detecting greater cooperation between groups and an expanding array of targets.
Many of the groups, such as al-Shabaab in East Africa and al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa, don't appear to pose much danger to the U.S. continent, Cooney said, although they could be destabilizing forces in their regions.
To combat those threats, Cooney said his agency relies on 103 Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the United States and 63 offices around the world. Since Sept. 11, 2011, he said the FBI had added 70 JTTFs that utilize investigators, analysts, linguists and SWAT experts from dozens of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The task forces, he said, act as "critical force multipliers."