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NSA launches cyber directorate to defend against nation-state attacks

The National Security Agency has unveiled plans for a new directorate aimed at “redefining its cyber security mission” and stemming the tide of nation-state attacks on the US.

The Cybersecurity Directorate will come into operation on 1 October and be charged with leveraging signals intelligence about adversaries to crack down on threats.

“This new approach to cybersecurity will better position NSA to collaborate with key partners across the US government like US Cyber Command, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau of Investigation,” the NSA said in a statement.

“It will also enable us to better share information with our customers so they are equipped to defend against malicious cyber activity.”

The directorate will be led by Anne Neuberger, who serves as director of cyber security. She previously worked as the NSA’s first chief risk officer, deputy director of operations and lead of the Russia Small Group, spearheading the agency’s efforts to crack down on interference in the 2018 midterm elections.

The US has become increasingly vocal in calling out nation-state attacks over the last two years, attributing campaigns to both Russia and China. It has also been more transparent about the way in which it carries out offensive cyber campaigns.

In June, after Iran shot down a US drone and was accused of carrying out attacks on oil tankers, President Trump sanctioned a cyber attack on Iranian weapons systems. The attack took out the systems behind rocket and missile launchers, it was reported.

While the US is hauling its cyber operations out of the shadows, efforts to create an international pact on cyber warfare have so far fallen flat. A cyber security accord launched by France last year drew the backing of more than 50 countries, but the US, Russia and China refused to sign up.