Intell agencies plan to beef up cybersecurity

Enhancing cybersecurity a mission objective for the next four years.

Enhancing cybersecurity is a mission objective for intelligence agencies during the next four years, according to an unclassified version of the 2009 National Intelligence Strategy released today.

The NIS, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, lays out what intelligence agencies hope to accomplish over the next four years through mission objectives, and how the agencies plan to do so with enterprise objectives.

Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, told reporters today that the country has to be aggressive in protecting its own secrets and stealing those of other nations. Throughout the world, he said, "information is moving to networks and that’s where you have to go to learn what other countries and other groups are up to, and that’s what you have to be able to protect in order to be able to do your own work."

China and Russia in particular are very aggressive in the cyber world, Blair added.

The NIS report said that the architecture of the nation’s digital infrastructure, based largely upon the Internet, is neither secure nor resilient.

"Nation states and non-governmental entities are compromising, stealing, changing, or destroying information, and have the potential to undermine national confidence in the information systems upon which our economy and national security rests,” the report reads.

The strategy also calls for the use of counterintelligence efforts across the cyber domain to protect critical infrastructure. The integration of counterintelligence is also a mission objective for intelligence agencies during the next four years.

The NIS said intelligence agencies need to:

  • Integrate cyber expertise throughout agencies, allied intelligence services, industry, and academia.
  • Close gaps in collection capability and analytic knowledge base on cybersecurity threats.
  • Pay more attention to neutralizing cyber threats to non-traditional intelligence customers.
  • Strengthen community-wide processes for mission management and for a scalable, foundational capability to conduct cyber operations.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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