If We Are Not a Team, We Lose

NSA Director Outlines Nation's Cybersecurity Mission
If We Are Not a Team, We Lose
For those who say the National Security Agency wants to take charge of the nation's cybersecurity, the agency's director has a message: You're wrong.

"We do not want to run cybersecurity for the U.S. government," says Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, delivering a keynote address at the RSA Conference on Tuesday. Instead, Alexander says, cybersecurity must be ensured by a partnership of the NSA, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. allies, industry and academia.

In discussing the NSA's mission to protect the nation's cyber resources, Alexander offers a history lesson, tracing the agency's beginnings back to code-cracking in World War II. He then goes on to discuss the emergence of the Internet as the primary network for conducting both government and business, and he cites the 2007 Estonia "cyber riot" as a "game-changer" in information security. With that assault against a nation's critical information infrastructure, Alexander says, "All of a sudden we went from cybercrime to cyberwarfare."

Alexander is optimistic about the forthcoming report from Melissa Hathaway, acting senior director for cyberspace at the National Security and Homeland Security Councils, who has just completed a two-month interagency review of federal government cybersecurity programs, policies and procedures. "Her outreach to industry and allies has been superb," Alexander says.

Looking ahead, Alexander sees cybersecurity as the responsibility of the public and private sectors, and in that partnership he sees the NSA's role as providing technical support.

"Partnership" is the operative word, Alexander stresses. "If we are not a team, we lose."

About the Author

Tom Field

Tom Field

Senior Vice President, Editorial, ISMG

Field is responsible for all of ISMG's 28 global media properties and its team of journalists. He also helped to develop and lead ISMG's award-winning summit series that has brought together security practitioners and industry influencers from around the world, as well as ISMG's series of exclusive executive roundtables.

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