NSA Invites Media to Explore New Cybersecurity Directorate

The National Security Agency (NSA) is known for its secrecy, but last week the agency opened its doors to journalist to provide an inside look at the new Cybersecurity Directorate. Reporters were welcomed into the agency’s Fort Meade, Maryland headquarters for a tour of the operations underway to protect the U.S. against emerging cyber threats.

The new Cybersecurity Directorate unifies the agency’s foreign intelligence and cyber operations together under the same roof. The directorate is tasked with “preventing and eradicating threats to National Security Systems and the Defense Industrial Base,” according to the agency.

Implementation of the directorate began on October 1, led by the new Director of Cybersecurity Anne Neuberger. Neuberger has previously served as Chief Risk Officer, Deputy Director of Operations, and Lead of NSA’s Russia Small Group.

NSA hopes the new directorate will better position the agency to collaborate with groups such as the U.S. Cyber Command, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to outlets who toured the facility last week, the directorate will be responsible for “gathering and distributing intelligence needed to defend the vote, punish bad actors and avoid a repeat of 2016 -- when Russia meddled with state election data and launched a foreign influence campaign on social media.”

Journalists were able to view the NSA’s Joint Operations Center, which included a mix of NSA employees and U.S. Cyber Command employees. The Cyber Command is the military’s cyber division and is staffed around the clock.

The Operations Center includes a staff of about 200 working 12-hour shifts in which they search for adversaries, defend government networks, share information with government agencies, coordinate with allies, and support offensive cyber operations.

The tour is a part of the NSA’s new mission to become more transparent to the American public.

“If we want the average American to feel that they can trust the best of the country’s intelligence capabilities to be protecting the security and stability we rely on, they need to know the principles we operate under,” Neuberger said during the visit. “They need to know the questions asked here.”

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