The New Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center

By Herb Lin
Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 12:43 PM

According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration is establishing a new agency to fuse intelligence from around the government when a cyber crisis occurs. Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, is quoted as saying that “policymakers and operators will benefit from having a rapid source of intelligence [about incoming cyberattacks],” and that policymakers will have an “integrated, all-tools approach to the cyberthreat.”

She's obviously right, and having an all-source intelligence fusion center that provides one-stop shopping for policy makers trying to react to a cyber crisis is clearly a good thing. But as someone who has followed the evolution of government processes to manage cyber threats, my first reaction is “Really? No one was doing this previously?” We’ve known for many years that a comprehensive attack assessment is a central element of an effective threat response—why is a unit with this function being stood up only now?

The Post story offers a clue regarding the answer when it quotes Melissa Hathaway—“We need to be forcing the existing organizations to become more effective — hold them accountable.” So a cynic might be tempted to conclude that the establishment of this unit is a bureaucratic workaround for a process that has been unable to deliver to policy makers all of the information available in a useful and timely manner. Walt Kelly would have understood.