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US Government Creates New Agency To Tackle Cyber Threats

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

The United States government has decided to create a new agency Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) to deal with the threats emanating from the World Wide Web. Announcing the creation of the new agency at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, presidential adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco said that new agency will collect information about latest cyber threats from a variety of sources (consumer groups, private organizations, government agencies etc.) and send out warnings about imminent attacks to the general public as well as private bodies.

The number of cyber-attacks have increased manifold over the last few years. These days, hackers are not only targeting government and security infrastructure with sophisticated attacks, they are even stealing confidential data from private companies and individuals. Last year, Sony became a target of a massive cyber-attack that not only leaked the company’s secrets but also cost it millions of dollars in revenue. While the cyber-attacks have taken place with increased frequency, the US government’s response has often been branded as too slow due to perceived lack of coordination among different intelligence agencies. It was the Sony attack that forced the White House out of slumber and pushed it to do something meaningful to deal with the increasing number of cyber threats.

In an interview with the daily newspaper Washington Post, Monaco said that since cyber-attacks are the biggest threats facing the United States, having a single and rapid source of intelligence would benefit all the stakeholders. She also added that the creation of the new agency would ensure that the authorities have the same integrated approach to cyber threats as they have towards tackling terrorism. Just as the National Counterterrorism Center was created to deal with physical threats, the creation of the new agency will centralize intelligence gathering related to online threats.

Monaco also said that while several government bodies (including the NSA and FBI) deal with cyber threats on a daily basis, they do not share the intelligence with other agencies or feed the data to a central database. When Sony Pictures was hacked, this lack of co-ordination was totally exposed since different agencies gave different versions of the attack to the President. This forced a relook at the intelligence gathering and sharing and forced the government to launch CTIIC. Monaco said that the agency will gather data from multiple agencies and address the gaps in data sharing so that cyber threats could be dealt more swiftly and in a much more meaningful way.

While the government clearly has the best interests of everyone in creating CTIIC, critics have pointed out that creation of an entirely new agency could slow down response to cyber threats ever further. Melissa Hathaway, president of Hathaway Global Strategies and a former White House cybersecurity coordinator, says that since intelligence agencies have their own infrastructure to deal with online threats, they should be made more efficient. However, Monaco downplayed such comments by saying that the new agency would make the work of intelligence agencies easier by enabling them to focus on their core responsibilities while providing them with useful information related to online threats.

June 11, 2015

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