NSA To Share More Unclassified Information On Cyber Threats To Build Industry Partnerships

The National Security Agency (NSA) is looking to increase its capacity for sharing unclassified information on potential network vulnerabilities with industry as it hopes to combat increasing adversarial cyber threats.

Public-private partnerships remain a critical piece for NSA cyber operations as analysts gather information on attacks aimed increasingly at both federal and industry networks, according to Jonathan Darby, deputy chief of the agency’s cyber security operations group.

NSA Cyber Lead Jonathan Darby addresses the State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council's annual briefing. Photo: Matthew Beinart.

NSA Cyber Lead Jonathan Darby addresses the State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council's annual briefing. Photo: Matthew Beinart.

“This cyber security challenge is not a government problem, it’s not a private sector problem. It’s a joint problem. We both share in this, and we have to be able to work together to jointly protect our networks from cyber adversaries,” said Darby, while addressing a crowd at the State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council’s (OSAC) annual briefing Wednesday.

The OSAC event gathered State Dept. and industry partners to share best practices on information sharing used to improve the security of diplomats and contractors abroad.

Darby expects the upward trend of global cyber threats to continue, and views OSAC private sector partners as key components to combating increasingly sophisticated capabilities used to infiltrate networks.

“We’ve got to find ways to share our information, data, findings, vulnerabilities and our gaps with one another.. not only within the government sphere and different agencies, but also among private sector entities and then with one another and across international boundaries,” Darby said.

Cyber adversaries continue re-purposing and weaponizing capabilities, and improved information sharing can prevent the same vulnerabilities from being exploited.

The NSA plans to keep pushing as much unclassified information as possible to best inform the private sector on the most pressing cyber defense issues, according to Darby, who views holding all this information in a top-level environment as unnecessary.

“If we’re going to share information as broadly as we need to, we need to do that in an unclassified manner,” Darby said.

With most cyber attacks hitting multiple entities and networks at the same time, public-private partnerships needed policies in place and processes tested to best prepare response coordination, according to Darby.

“As a government person, I may have access to a classified bit of information and I can’t quite unlock that puzzle. Well maybe you’ll have a piece of data from a portion of a private sector network that an adversary approached. That piece of data may be a missing link to unlock what is going on and what I’m seeing here,” Darby said.

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