The Obama administration is establishing a new agency to deal with computer threats. Announced last week, the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) would be modeled on the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) which was established after the September 11 attacks.
“The cyber threat is one of the greatest threats we face, and policymakers and operators will benefit from having a rapid source of intelligence,” Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said to the Washington Post. “It will help ensure that we have the same integrated, all-tools approach to the cyber threat that we have developed to combat terrorism.”
Although the CTIIC will overlap other federal agencies (FBI, DHS, NSA and more) for many of their duties, the current administration feels that having one agency responsible for cyberattacks will do for cyber threats what the NCTC did for terrorism.
“No single government entity is responsible for producing coordinated cyber threat assessments, ensuring that information is shared rapidly among existing cyber centers and other [government] elements, and supporting the work of operators and policymakers with timely intelligence about the latest cyber threats and threat actors,” Monaco continued.
The renewed interest comes after a flurry of cyberattacks on financial institutions, retail stores, government internet systems and a movie studio. Although the Sony studio hack is probably the most well-known, it is certainly not the most damaging. Many of these attacks have come from outside of the country. There are connections between the financial attacks and Eastern Europe and Iran, between government networks and Russia and, of course, North Korea has been implicated in the hacking of Sony’s computers.
Instead of calling for a heightened degree of information sharing and inter-agency cooperation, however, the government is establishing another agency – under the direction of the Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper – to coordinate and respond more quickly to these threats. The initial staffing for the agency will be 50 and they will have a budget of $35 million.
Many people will remember James Clapper claimed to the Senate that the NSA did “not willingly” collect and store data on the American people. That claim was proven false by the documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Clapper apologized for the deception.
In this instance, as in most, I am unconvinced that another agency is the answer. There is too much overlap and competition in government already. This situation just puts another player on the field.
The CTIIC is being hailed as helping the other agencies with interpretation of data and coordinating the intelligence and, according to Michael Daniel, White House cybersecurity coordinator, “getting the other agencies out of the business of interpreting raw signals.”
“There’s a degree of integration that’s occurring on my staff that really should not be occurring. It needs to come into us that way. I think that [the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center] will be a great force multiplier in this space,” Daniels said on February 11.
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