As part of a broader fusion of the National Security Agency's offensive and defensive portfolios, the NSA is set to create a cybersecurity directorate later this year, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Although the integration has been underway for several years, it has expanded under Gen. Paul Nakasone, who has led the NSA and the U.S. Cyber Command since May 2018 as the Trump administration has sought to use a more aggressive approach against foreign threats.
Anne Neuberger, who is slated to lead the new directorate when it becomes operational on October 1, has insisted that "You need to assess the risk of doing and the risk of not doing, as well. If you only assess the risk of not doing, you end up behind the bunkers and not engaging in the fight."
Her view is representative of a philosophical tranformation that has been occuring at the NSA and throughout the intelligence community.
The establishment of a cybersecurity directorate illustrates a growing consensus that the U.S. has often been too reluctant to engage offensively with cyber capabilities, due largely to fears of escalation and retaliation.
The new realization is that effective defense demands a more aggressive posture against adversaries, as well as sharing more broadly intelligence about potential foreign cyber threats.
The new cybersecurity directorate will replace the agency's information assurance directorate, which was responsible for protecting sensitive information on national security systems but, for the most part, operated separately from its signals intelligence directorate.
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