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US Creating New Cyber Security Agency

President Obama delivers remarks at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, January 13, 2015. (White House)

President Obama delivers remarks at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, January 13, 2015. (White House)

Spurred to action by the recent cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, President Barack Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser announced on Tuesday that the administration is creating a new cyber security agency.

United States Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco said the new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will coordinate analysis of cyber threats and would be structured similarly to existing government counterterrorism programs.

The Washington Post reports the new cyber agency will be specifically modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center, which was established after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in response to the failure of other agencies to share intelligence that may have thwarted the attacks.

“Currently, no single government entity is responsible for producing coordinated cyber threat assessments” and sharing the information rapidly, Monaco is quoted by Reuters. The new agency “is intended to fill these gaps,” she said.

“The cyberthreat is one of the greatest threats we face, and policymakers and operators will benefit from having a rapid source of intelligence,” Monaco told the Post. “It will help ensure that we have the same integrated, all-tools approach to the cyberthreat that we have developed to combat terrorism.”

In the wake of the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment hack and other attacks targeting Home Depot, Anthem, Target and even the federal government itself, President Obama has moved cyber security to the top of his agenda.

Obama signaled his intention to increase focus on cyber security in a series of speeches last month.

“One of the things we’re going to be talking about is cybersecurity,” the president said on January 13 while calling on Congress to pass sweeping legislation aimed at boosting US cyber security. “With the Sony attack that took place, with the Twitter account that was hacked by Islamist jihadist sympathizers yesterday, it just goes to show much more work we need to do both public and private sector to strengthen our cybersecurity.”

Former White House counterterrorism ‘czar’ Richard Clark called the new agency “a great idea” and “overdue.” But others questioned whether such a move is necessary.

“We should not be creating more organizations and bureaucracy,” Melissa Hathaway, a former White House cyber security coordinator who is now president of Hathaway Global Strategies, told the Post. “We need to be forcing the existing organizations to become more effective — hold them accountable.”

Hathaway noted that the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency all have cyber-security divisions, and that the FBI and NSA have the capability to integrate information.

Others oppose the new agency because they believe it could have an erosive effect on civil liberties.

“It is normal… to opt toward safety in rough times rather than liberty [but] I argue that one should take the long run,” Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge who is now Fox News Channel’s senior judicial analysts, told Fox Business Channel host Stuart Varney. “When one gives up liberty in hard times… it does not come back in good times.”

Obama will host a ‘cyber summit’ with tech industry and government leaders at Stanford University in California on Friday.

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