Governance & Risk Management

Cybersecurity Elevated as U.S. Intel Priority

Intel Community Faces Explosive Growth in Data
Cybersecurity Elevated as U.S. Intel Priority
For the first time, enhancing cybersecurity is among the primary mission objectives of the government's intelligence community, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said Tuesday.

"The National Intelligence Strategy lays out the strategic environment - challenges the U.S. faces not only from other nations and non-state actors, but also from global trends related to forces like economics, the environment, emerging technology, and pandemic disease," said a statement issued by Blair that outlined the intelligence community's goals for the next four years, including to enable wise national security policies, support national security actions, deliver top-notch capabilities and operate as a team."

Besides enhancing cybersecurity, the five other primary mission objectives are to combat violent extremism, counter weapons-of-mass-destruction proliferation, provide strategic intelligence and warning, integrate counterintelligence capabilities and support current operations including U.S. diplomatic, military and law enforcement operations.

"This strategy advances our original, founding directive to achieve an intelligence community that is integrated and collaborative," Blair said. "But it really goes much further than that. It reflects a more refined understanding of the threats we face and how we'll combat them."

Blair said the objectives can only be carried out by an intelligence community that is agile, adaptive and united. "Most importantly," he said, "it recognizes that national security hinges on good intelligence and it provides me with the tools I need to monitor performance and ensure accountability."

According to the unclassified, 24-page National Intelligence Strategy, the intelligence community has made progress in implementing the initiatives and developing the enabling capabilities needed to meet national cybersecurity guidance, but must quickly add to these efforts through the following:

  • Leverage partnerships. Integrate cyber expertise throughout the IC, as well as with allied intelligence services, industry, and the academic community.

  • Protect U.S. infrastructure. Identify, prioritize, and close the gaps in our collection capability and analytic knowledge base on threats to our cybersecurity.

  • Combat cyber threats to non-traditional targets. Focus more resources on identifying and neutralizing cyber threats to non-traditional intelligence customers.

  • Manage the cyber mission. Strengthen community- wide processes for mission management, specifically processes for enabling collaborative planning and execution and for providing a scalable, foundational capability to conduct cyber operations.

According to a Q&A issued with the new strategy, the intelligence community will aggressively improve information sharing capabilities and processes. The intelligence community faces an explosive growth in the volume, velocity and variability of information; greater concern about direct threats to our citizens; and requirements for even greater sharing of information among a wider range of stakeholders.

"Building on recent accomplishments" - such as the intelligence community wiki Intellipedia and social network A-Space - "the 2009 NIS advances an intelligence-community-wide information architecture, new tools and techniques for improved information aggregation and analysis, and a robust external and internal cybersecurity posture," the Q&A states. "The new Intelligence Community Directive 501 - Discovery and Dissemination or Retrieval of Information within the Intelligence Community - supports the National Intelligence Strategy by enabling the development of transformational capabilities that will accelerate discovery and access to all intelligence information while protecting sources and methods and respecting privacy and civil liberties."

The 4-year-old Office of the Director of National Intelligence oversees the coordination and integration of the16 federal intelligence organizations. The director sets the priorities for and manages the execution of the National Intelligence Program. The director also serves as the primary adviser to the president and the National Security Council on intelligence matters related to national security.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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