White House to set up new early warning cyber-threat center

The Obama administration wants all corners of government to be on the same page when a cyberattack strikes. The new center will help create a "seamless" intelligence stream.

The new cyberthreat center will help build intelligence amid cyberattacks (Image: NSA)

The U.S. government is to set up a new agency to monitor cyber-threats and share intelligence.

In a speech Tuesday, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism Lisa Monaco announced the new division would be a new intelligence-based center that will "connect the dots" between incoming cyber-threats so that various government agencies can be aware, and prepare.

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"Cyber-threats to our national security and economic security are increasingly in their frequency and sophistication." Monaco said. "No-one it seems is immune, from healthcare companies and universities, to technology companies.

She warned that nation states and non-state hackers are constantly "seeking to steal, to spy, to manipulate, and to destroy data."

President Obama made cyber-threat and intelligence sharing a key priority in his State of the Union address last month, in which he promised better cybersecurity in the wake of high-profile hacks against Sony Pictures, and most recently health insurance provider Anthem.

A number of federal agencies, including the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), all have divisions focusing on cybersecurity.

The Obama administration wants the newly-formed Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) to do exactly that -- linking the various federal divisions in order to create a "seamless intelligence flow," according to an official speaking to Reuters on Tuesday.

"There's so many different pieces of intelligence coming in, you've got to collaborate and put it together," said CrowdStrike president Shawn Henry on CBS This Morning.

The new agency, which will begin with about 50 staff and a budget of $35 million, aims to learn from the intelligence failings that led to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, officials said.

"We need to sync up our intelligence with our operations, and respond quickly against threats to our citizens and companies," said Monaco.

The center will "have to work in lock-step with the private sector," she said. "The federal government won't leave the private sector to fend for itself. Partnership is a precondition of success."

That means "daily collaboration" to identify threats in order to stave off attacks. She said in an example that the U.S. government will alert private sector companies as soon as it becomes available to it, in an effort to prevent attacks from happening.

But Monaco confirmed CTIIC will "not collect intelligence."

The director of national intelligence James Clapper will head up the division.