WASHINGTON—The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s top cyber cop offered a grim appraisal of the nation’s efforts to keep computer hackers from plundering corporate data networks: “We’re not winning,” he said.

WSJ’s Devlin Barrett reports the FBI is struggling to combat cyberattacks by hackers. “We’re not winning,” FBI executive assistant director Shawn Henry said. AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari

Shawn Henry, who is preparing to leave the FBI after more than two decades with the bureau, said in an interview that the current public and private approach to fending off hackers is “unsustainable.” Computer criminals are simply too talented and defensive measures too weak to stop them, he said.

His comments weren’t directed at specific legislation but came as Congress considers two competing measures designed to buttress the networks for critical U.S. infrastructure, such as electrical-power plants and nuclear reactors. Though few cybersecurity experts disagree on the need for security improvements, business advocates have argued that the new regulations called for in one of the bills aren’t likely to better protect computer networks.

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