Splitting the NSA and US Cyber Command

Rumor is that the Trump administration will separate the NSA and US Cyber Command. I have long thought this was a good idea. Here's a good discussion of what it does and doesn't mean.

Posted on August 3, 2017 at 6:29 AM • 14 Comments

Comments

tonyAugust 3, 2017 8:43 AM

@Mod @Bruce

Have tested in several browser and the ABC link is a dead link :(

Clive RobinsonAugust 3, 2017 10:05 AM

If you look down Michael Sulmeyer's piece you will find this,

    U.S. Cyber Command has been charged with three missions: defend the Defense Department’s networks and systems, provide offensive support to other commands in the event of a contingency, and defend the nation from a cyber-attack of significant consequence (less than two percent of incidents would qualify as “significant”).

You see the same old problem of "defence and offence" that the NSA was chartered with from the get go, and led to schizophrenic behaviour that ended up with mainly the psychotic offence position becoming dominant. Which I and others have mentioned is a fundemental flaw for quite a long time now.

The author obviously has a similar feeling when you see him talking about the power struggle as rapidly changing "Stockholm Syndrome".

Thus we end up with the "first strike" doctrine writ large to the point defence of the nations civil and commercial assets takes a very very distant back seat. As priority number one is offensive cyber weapons that must be kept more than ultra secret. Thus vast numbers of very long lived zero days get stacked and not fixed.

It's a bit like making all US bank vaults from tents and putting a machine gun nest in Maryland to shoot up anyone you think might just slip in via the back flap...

Which I think most would regard as a very bad policy as you realy can not see all your enemies no matter how good your telescope, especially when they can move covertly and quickly without you having time to respond...

Another issue not mentioned is the NSA relationship to both the CIA and FBI that it uses to do much of the NSA's non technical "wet work".

Will this devolved agency have the same arms length privileges, especially as that will inevitably bring them into conflict with the NSA and start fresh turff wars. Which most know will be very counter productive.

The only upside if defence/offence is retained realy is more political posts, thus outsourcing, greater inefficiency and more deniability. I realy can not see what would change unless defence and offence are seperated by way more than a country mile.

Thomas DouterAugust 3, 2017 10:16 AM

Trump and the NSA. Can you believe either?

Theoretically, a good idea. Nonetheless, the pattern is a shakeup of this nature will give the military even more power over citizen civilians. Conversely, more oppression for us.

Clive RobinsonAugust 3, 2017 10:49 AM

Another point to consider is who will run the split off cyber command? It's not difficult to find things such as,

    Under the new plan being forwarded by the Pentagon to the White House, officials said Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville would be nominated to lead Cyber Command. Leadership of the NSA could be turned over to a civilian.

A look at Lt. Gen. Mayville's CV suggests he is not realy the person to equate defence / offence in a way that would best suit world peace.

The Pentagon has been bemoning thst they have not been able to deal with Muslim fundementalist terrorists / malitias etc.

The problem with going after them Cyber-offense wise is not wise. It will provide others such as China, Iran, India, Russia and Packistan with what is in effect the US "order of battle" even if it does not reveal all capabilities.

The reason this is important is that in many respects a Cyber-War will start and finish in a very short period of time at which point the most likely result is Kinetic action.

As Russian President Putin observed not so long ago, few will survive a nuclear war between any of the major nuclear super powers. Especially as there have been increasing hints that retalitory response is becoming autonomous as humans add to long a time delay in the loop.

But underlying all of this way to many otherwise intelligent people put way to much faith in the attribution ability of IC entities.

They are to be honest absolutly crap at it from what we see publically. We get the "It's the buttler wot dunit" type knee jerk behaviour where the "buttler" is replaced with the Orwellian enemy of choice (China / Russia APT eyc etc). Chosen politically for the belief that "damnant quod non intellegunt" is a sensible position to be in...

Desmond BrennanAugust 3, 2017 1:33 PM

I would prefer to go for:

(A) Cyber Defense and Security Assurance: overarching taking on some of the DHS private sector stuff, NIST, and the USG cyber defense remit of Cyber Command.

(B) Collections and Offense

(C) Information Operations: Both counter Information Warfare, and also getting the truth out

AJWMAugust 3, 2017 2:47 PM

So if USAF junior enlisted are airmen, are the equivalent in the US Cyber Command cybermen?

tsAugust 4, 2017 2:11 AM

i smell ulterior motives,.
nothing trump has done so far has been for the good of the country,. it's always been about him, making more money.

As much as this may seem a good idea,. i somehow doubt it'll actually benefit any of us.

cgAugust 8, 2017 2:23 PM

Rumor is that the Trump administration will separate the NSA and US Cyber Command.

Not surprising. They have separate responsibilities in the first place. NSA collects and analyzes raw intelligence. U.S. Military Cyber Command takes action based on that intelligence.

I have long thought this was a good idea.

To wit: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/02/breaking_up_the.html

Now we really need to solve the Peeping Tom // LOVEINT problem.

There is a thriving red-light district in Baltimore, Maryland, centered in among the Baltimore City Police Headquarters, the Holocaust Memorial Park, and the Port Discovery Children's Museum downtown. A little over half an hour's drive from Ft. Meade, Maryland.

Nightmare scenario: NSA employees, (the "bros," you know who I mean,) see a stripper in one of those clubs, and go looking for other intelligence on her, "set her up" in ["humorously" (to them)] intelligence-community-related street theater scenes to make fun of her. Then it continues on to the screw tapes and bedroom videos.

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