An anonymous senior Obama administration official announced on Tuesday that the government is creating a new cybersecurity agency called the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC). The new entity will monitor, collect information and analyze potential threats.
The new agency will be an “intelligence center that will ‘connect the dots’ between various cyber threats to the nation so that relevant departments and agencies are aware of these threats in as close to real time as possible,” the official said.
This announcement comes after a year of high profile hacks including one of the largest on Anthem just last week that exposed 80 million accounts and private information. Among other recent attacks are JP Morgan exposed, Home Depot, Kmart, Dairy Queen, Xbox, Sony and ICANN have all been the target of hacks designed to obtain sensitive data. The government was also the target of several attacks with US military social media accounts hacked, US Department of State email and at risk with faulty cloud contracts.
“Obama will issue a memorandum creating the center, which will be part of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence,” according to the Washington Post. “The new agency will begin with a staff of about 50 and a budget of $35 million.”
Other federal agencies such as the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and National Security Administration have cybersecurity related units. The DOJ just announced such a dedicated unit in December. Having an agency strictly for cybersecurity may engender more trust from the public given that entities such as the NSA have a reputation for ignoring the public’s right to privacy. The government sometimes keeps known cyberthreats a secret.
Detractors of Obama’s proposed new cybersecurity legislation believe there should be reform in the NSA first before the flow of cybersecurity related information flows between the government and private sectors.
“The cyberthreat 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, to Reuters. “It will help ensure that we have the same integrated, all-tools approach to the cyberthreat that we have developed to combat terrorism.” Monaco will announce the new agency later Tuesday in a speech at the Wilson Center.
Melissa Hathaway, former White House cybersecurity coordinator commented on the need for a dedicated agency despite the existence of several departments that currently coordinate on cybersecurity threats. “We should not be creating more organizations and bureaucracy,” she said to the Washington Post. “We need to be forcing the existing organizations to become more effective — hold them accountable.”
A recent report found that government insiders are the biggest threat to federal agencies. Last week the President suggested a $16 billion cybersecurity budget for 2016 and in January proposed new cybersecurity legislation. He eluded to the CTIIC in his Jan. 20 speech saying that the government would begin to combat cyberthreats in the same way they have terrorism with a dedicated team.