The National Security Agency announced that they plan to establish a defense-minded and cybersecurity-focused division that centered on defending the U.S. against foreign cyber- threats.
The division which will be given the name Cybersecurity Directorate will conduct its first operation starting October this year. The young division will aid in the defense against foreign adversaries, right in time with the increasing election intrusion by foreign nations such as Russia as a strategy of an ongoing plot to undermine the West.
The division’s first Director of Cybersecurity, Anne Neuberger, will report directly to General Paul Nakasone, the NSA’s Director. Neuberger previously held positions as the NSA Chief Risk Officer; Deputy Director of Operations; and Lead of NSA’s Russia Small Group, an organization with joint collaboration between U.S. and NSA Cyber Command during 2018.
The NSA has been known for its efforts in developing and improving the cybersecurity arsenal of the U.S. According to NSA, “this new approach to cybersecurity will better position NSA to collaborate with key partners across the U.S. government like U.S. Cyber Command, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
“It will also enable us to share information with our customers better, so they are equipped to defend against the malicious cyber activity,” they added.
Nakasone announced the new cybersecurity directorate on an International Conference on July 23 at Fordham University. He said that “over the past couple years, as we did a number of different reorganizations, one of the things I think we lost was the emphasis on cybersecurity.”
Under the jurisdiction of President Donald Trump, the NSA has been working hard towards a more aggressive way to defend the state and its infrastructures against foreign adversaries such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea (CRINK).
Philip Ingram MBE, a former colonel in the British military intelligence, pointed out that the U.S. Cyber Command has existed for “quite some time” The unit has an attack and defense remit capability, he added.
Thee move forms part of a wider effort to more closely align the agency’s offensive and defensive operations. And it seems like the agency is also excited in announcing this new development in their structure. NSA tweeted, asking citizens to “start spreading the news,” as the agency “is operationalizing intelligence to secure the country.”
In the past months, it seems that NSA has been tearing up a page out of U.S. Cyber Command’s book by sharing information with the private sector. On Twitter and VirusTotal, there had been a series of sharing of malware samples by the U.S. Cyber Command.
With those alerts, the private sector was able to boost detection capabilities for possible or ongoing attacks from foreign threats. A US Cyber Command alert prompted that there will be a wave of assaults manipulated by Iranian Hackers and gripping Outlook vulnerabilities. This alert was a massive help since it was able to prevent a widespread loss on Outlook.
Cybersecurity Directorate new job will be on intelligence sharing and assessing vulnerability, a position that DHS has already been taking. How the two agencies will collaborate and will interact still remains a question to be seen as more details about the NSA’s new initiative surfaces.
However, some people do not agree with NSA’s idea of defense. As pointed out by Thornton-Trump, a cryptocurrency expert, having the military or the government organization take or even assume responsibility for the security of the public internet “might be a bit disconcerting for many folks.”
Thornton- Trump says: “it is a very difficult position to be in without appropriate governance and oversight which may not necessarily be in place given a new domestic mandate.”
“I think the NSA is caught inside a fiendish Venn diagram, with freedom on one side and security on the other,” he added. Last week, Attorney General William P. Barr defended the use of encryption backdoors- which most security experts agree that this step would be a colossal failure causing a major disaster.
It may be a two-sided battle between the NSA since they are torn between the security of the public internet and the freedom of the people to use it. Nevertheless, the NSA has been working effortlessly to provide a secure and safe internet for the public by means of increasing the defense against foreign attackers.