The National Security Agency (NSA) announced Tuesday that it will form a cybersecurity arm in October to unify its foreign intelligence and cyber defense missions.
The Cyber Directorate will be responsible for defending against "threats to National Security Systems and the Defense Industrial Base," the NSA said in announcing the new initiative.
NSA Director Paul Nakasone, who is expected to formally unveil the initiative later Tuesday, said the directorate will allow the agency to "redefine its cyber mission."
“What I’m trying to get to in a space like cyberspace is speed, agility, and unity of effort,” Nakasone said in a statement released by the agency.
The directorate will be led by Anne Neuberger, who has previously served as the NSA’s first chief risk officer. Neuberger has also worked as the NSA’s deputy director of operations and the lead of the "Russia Small Group," the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command task force created last year to thwart Russian cyber interference.
The new directorate is intended to allow the NSA to better collaborate with other agencies such as U.S. Cyber Command, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI while also making it easier for the NSA to share threat activity with customers to enable them to defend against potential cyberattacks.
The NSA said in its announcement of the new group that it will “reinvigorate our white hat mission opening the door to partners and customers on a wide variety of cybersecurity efforts,” along with “operationalizing our threat intelligence, vulnerability assessments, and cyber defense expertise to defeat our adversaries in cyberspace.”
The cybersecurity directorate will formally begin operations on Oct. 1.
NSA officials are rolling out the new arm as part of the International Conference on Cyber Security in New York City this week.
Nakasone is expected to discuss the new group during remarks at the conference later Tuesday, following a speech by Attorney General William Barr earlier in the day.
Barr discussed encryption issues during his speech Tuesday, saying that he believes encryption is allowing "criminals to operate with impunity" in the digital world, a statement that will likely contribute to tension between the U.S. government and the tech industry over whether law enforcement should be given special access to encrypted messages.