WASHINGTON — The White House unveiled a new cybersecurity center on Tuesday to coordinate and analyze cyber-threat assessments across agencies and disseminate information rapidly.
The move is in response to the growing number of cyber attacks that have impacted a broad swath of the U.S. economy, ranging from Target Corp., Home Depot and Sony Pictures to banks and government agencies.
Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, outlined the scope of the center that is being modeled after the national counterterrorism center.
“According to a recent U.S. government assessment, cyber threats to our national and economic security are increasing in their frequency, scale, sophistication and severity of impact. The range of cyber-threat actors, methods of attack, targeted systems and victims are expanding at an unprecedented clip,” Monaco said in a speech at the Wilson Center. “The pace of cyber intrusions have also ticked up substantially — annual reports of data breaches have increased roughly fivefold since 2009. And the seriousness of those breaches is also rising, causing significant economic damage. It has become clear that we can do more as a government to quickly consolidate, analyze and provide assessment on fast-moving cyber attacks.”
To that end, Monaco said the administration is launching the new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center under the auspices of the director of national intelligence.
“Currently, no single government entity is responsible for producing coordinated cyber-threat assessments, ensuring that information is shared rapidly among existing cyber centers and other elements within the government, and supporting the work of operators and policy makers with timely intelligence about the latest cyber threats and threat actors,” Monaco said. “The CTIIC is intended to fill these gaps.”
It is the latest move by the Obama administration to try to curb an alarming escalation in cyber attacks in recent months that have compromised the personal and financial information of millions of consumers. Part of the President’s overall strategy is also to strengthen ties with the private sector, and data-breach notification legislation is being considered in Congress as part of the approach.
Monaco said she will join the President and other Cabinet officials, academics and executives at Stanford University this week for the first White House summit on cybersecurity to “discuss how to improve trust, enhance cooperation and strengthen American online consumer protections and cyber defenses.”
She said collaboration with the private sector is key.
“We’re not going to bottle up our intelligence — if we have information about a significant threat to a business, we’re going to do our utmost to share it,” Monaco said. “In fact, within 24 hours of learning about the Sony Pictures Entertainment attack, the U.S. government pushed out information and malware signatures to the private sector to update their cyber defenses. We want this flow of information to go both ways.”