Sony hack prompts creation of new federal cyber-threat agency
It looks like tasking the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI with handling cyberattacks or digital threats isn't enough for the White House.
President Obama's assistant for homeland security and counterterrorism, Lisa Monaco, is expected to announce a new agency devoted to "sniff[ing] out threats in cyberspace" today.
According to the Washington Post, the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will be modeled on the National Counterterrorism Center, formed after the September 11 attack.
This new agency will report to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and is expected to debut with a 50-person staff which will be supported by a $35 million budget.
CTIIC's primary goal will be to corral the various intelligence agencies already working to combat what is seen as a growing threat from cyberattacks. The NSA, DOHS, and FBI will provide the information; this new agency will be expected to analyze and interpret it.
While some have called for something like this for a while, it was the November 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment that hastened its creation, according to the Post's report:
President Obama wanted to know the details [of the Sony hack]. What was the impact? Who was behind it? Monaco called meetings of the key agencies involved in the investigation, including the FBI, the NSA and the CIA.
'Okay, who do we think did this?'she asked, according to one participant. 'She got back six views.' All pointed to North Korea, but they differed in the degree of certainty. The key gap: No one was responsible for an analysis that integrated all the agency views. Yet some fear CTIIC will simply add another level of bureaucracy through which potential threats must travel before the government can interpret, and perhaps respond, to them.
In the meantime, this $35 million can be added to the tally of unforeseen expenses caused by North Korea (allegedly) hacking a Japanese company because of a Seth Rogen movie.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]