New US National Cyber Director

Christopher Inglis (pictured), the US’s first-ever National Cyber Director, is building out his office with an inaugural strategic intent statement. 

One of the early efforts of the new National Cyber Director is to tackle how to strengthen the critical infrastructure of the United States. 

The key to approaching that overwhelming task is to drive coordination across the federal government and the critical sectors, and to identify the crucial elements that connect each component, versus trying to protect all sectors at once, which is not quite possible, explained Inglis.

In particular, Inglis says he wants the government to take a tougher, more proactive approach to those who threaten America’s networks: degrade their capabilities and demonstrate how they would suffer should they attack.

The office plans to focus on both national and federal cyber security, assessing and reviewing budgets, supply chain security, planning and incident response, workforce development and working with Congress and the private sector.

Inglis said that technology is supposed to ease our lives, to enable self-betterment, to bring us closer to our loved ones and to our ambitions.  "Digital connectivity is not some occasionally destructive force of nature to be dispassionately tracked and mitigated, but a transformational tool to be wielded in furtherance of our highest ambitions... Recent history has forced us to predominantly consider cyber security in negative terms, which hackers must be stopped, vulnerabilities patched, and activities condemned, sanctioned, or disrupted. It is easy to forget that cyberspace was originally built to enrich our lives."

Malicious activity in cyberspace has become irresistibly attractive to geopolitical competitors and criminals alike. It enables a level of anonymity, of global reach, and of efficiency of scale that equips countries with asymmetric capabilities that challenge conventional conceptions of defense and deterrence.

Criminals and extremists similarly have the capabilities to threaten unprecedented levels of disruption and coercion. 

Inglis outlined how his office will coordinate the various agencies and entities tasked with defending against and  responding to cyber attacks. He and his staff will shape and coordinate budgets, ensure that federal cybersecurity operators are at least as good as their private counterparts, watch for emerging vulnerabilities in digital supply chains, and more.

Another major task for Inglis will be ensuring the federal government takes a consistent approach to helping critical infrastructure operators.

Inglis is still setting up his new office, which lacks permanent funding and is instead drawing from a White House contingency budget. He said he’s spoken to “dozens” of potential staffers and that many of them are in the process of joining his team, which Congress envisioned eventually growing to 75 people. “If we were to say that there are 16 critical infrastructures ... and if we were then to further imply that everything inside of every one of those 16 critical infrastructures should be defended with equal fealties, we find ourselves pretty quickly exhausted,” the director concluded. 

The Whitehouse:   DefenseOne:     AFCEA:      Politico:       Cyberscoop:   Meritalk:   

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