U.S. spy agency: more cybersecurity duties
Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair said the National Security Agency, which is responsible for codebreaking and electronic spying, should assume a greater role in cybersecurity because of its technological prowess and current role in detecting attacks.
"There are some wizards out there ... who can do stuff. I think that capability should be harnessed and built on," Blair said in testimony to the House of Representatives intelligence committee.....
Government concern over computer network vulnerability has risen as computer hackers become more sophisticated.
"A number of nations, including Russia and China, can disrupt elements of the U.S. information infrastructure," Blair said. "Cyber-defense is not a one-time fix; it requires a continual investment."
Billions of dollars are at stake. Defense contractors Northrop Grumman Corp, Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co are working on classified cybersecurity projects for the U.S. government.
Software and telecommunications companies also are likely to play a major role, said Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, whose Maryland district includes the NSA.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama ordered a 60-day cybersecurity review and named Melissa Hathaway, the top cyber official with the intelligence director's office, to a White House post overseeing the effort.
Some lawmakers have said the Homeland Security Department, which plays a leading role in U.S. computer security and is in charge of protecting federal civilian networks, is not up to the job.
Blair said he agreed: "The National Security Agency has the greatest repository of cyber talent."
"The National Security Agency has the greatest repository of cyber talent," Blair said. "[T]here are some wizards out there at Fort Meade who can do stuff."
Obama recently tasked Melissa Hathaway, cybercoordination executive for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to conduct a 60-day review of Bush's Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative, a secretive, $30 billion, multi-year plan to address cybersecurity issues.
Hathaway, a former management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, helped develop the classified plan, which many people have criticized for being too secretive, and has since been overseeing its implementation. She is also being touted as the likely candidate to assume the permanent role of cybersecurity czar when Obama fills the position -- a job that will likely be elevated to a presidential advisory position.