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Anne Neuberger outlines the goals of NSA's Cybersecurity Directorate. Photo by Nathan Mitchell.

Director Neuberger outlines aims of NSA’s Cybersecurity Directorate.

The US National Security Agency's recently established Cybersecurity Directorate will have a focus aligned with its parent agency's mission: the Directorate will concentrate on threats posed by nation-states.

The first day's sessions at the 10th annual Billington CyberSecurity Summit, September 4th, 2019, concluded with a fireside chat between Anne Neuberger, the director of the NSA’s new Cybersecurity Directorate, and Niloofar Razi Howe, a well-known cybersecurity venture investor. Howe asked if there was a strategy behind the directorate, which is set to launch on October 1st, and Neuberger said the goal was to “prevent and eradicate cyber actors from critical infrastructure.” She said NSA needed to change its approach in response to a drastically changing threat landscape. In particular, information operations changed with the rise of social media, and criminal operations changed with cryptocurrency.

With the Cybersecurity Directorate, Neuberger plans to increase information sharing with other agencies and with the private sector, emphasizing how important it is to cooperate with social media companies to fight information operations. Neuberger also highlighted the threat posed by ransomware, saying that there are about 400,000 of these attacks per day.

Looking at short-term objectives, Neuberger wants to see increased adoption of security measures for Internet infrastructure, including DMARC, BGP, and secure DNS. From a medium-term perspective, she wants to focus on identity, in order to thwart information operations and abuse of online anonymity. Neuberger added that the agency is already working on quantum-resistant cryptography. 

The intelligence community’s main objective is looking at threats posed by nation states, and Neuberger pointed to China as a major focus. She said the OPM hack, the Cloud Hopper activities, and rampant intellectual property theft are indicative of China’s goals.