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The U.S. Government's Cyber-Go-Round

February 17, 2015 in Economics

By Patrick G. Eddington

Patrick G. Eddington

Official Washington’s response to perceived major crises generally follows a pattern: a serious security threat is proclaimed that requires vast new resources and legal authorities to defeat. A “czar” may be appointed to help coordinate the federal response, or even an entirely new military command will be established to meet the challenge. When those efforts fail, a reorganization of the national security apparatus will be the next proposed step. The end result is usually more bureaucratic and policy failure. 

The U.S. government has effectively done all of these things in response to the increase in online threats, hacking, and “cyber warfare.” The latest episode in the ongoing cyber-drama occurred this week, when White House official Lisa Monaco announced that the administration would soon create a “Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center.” 

Countering cyber threats is already the fragmented responsibility of the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, as well as the FBI. And given the fact that the head of Cyber Command also happens to be the Director of the National Security Agency, the national security establishment’s dominance of the cyber arena is already well advanced—a situation that prompted the resignation of then-National Cyber Security Center director Rod Beckstrom in 2009.

The federal government is once again attempting to centralize a response to a problem that demands a decentralized solution.”

In his resignation letter to then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Beckstrom stated:  

NSA effectively controls DHS cyber efforts through detailees, technology insertions, and the proposed move of NPPD and the NCSC to a Fort Meade NSA facility. NSA currently dominates most national cyber efforts. While acknowledging the critical importance of NSA to our intelligence efforts, I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds. The intelligence culture is very different than a network operations or security culture. In addition, the threats to our democratic processes are significant if all top level government network security and monitoring are handled by any one organization (either directly or indirectly).

In light of NSA’s well-documented mass surveillance and storage of data on millions of Americans, Beckstrom’s concerns about concentrating government cyber-powers in any single entity seem well founded. 

According to Bloomberg, the new cyber threat center will have a budget of $35 million and employ roughly 50 people. Cyber Command alone has at least 3000 staff at present and is seeking to double that number by the end of 2015. In Washington, unless an entity has …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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