NSA Director Shares His Vision for NSA and USCYBERCOM

NSA Director Shares His Vision for NSA and USCYBERCOM

TYSONS CORNER, VA (August 9, 2018) – General Paul Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM); Director, National Security Agency (NSA); and Chief, Central Security Service (CSS), delivered remarks and participated in a Q&A before an audience of more 400 attendees at a Leadership Dinner hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA).

General Nakasone discussed the “constants” that will enable NSA and CYBERCOM to manage the threat from cyber-attacks even as new technologies such as 5G, blockchain, and the Internet of Things create novel challenges, and as state actors – particularly Russia and China – increasingly “leverage cyber means, engaging in continuous, provocative, and even dangerous activities in a manner below the threshold level of armed conflict.” General Nakasone’s “constants” include highly effective partnerships, extraordinary talent, application of innovative technology, and ability to select and prosecute targets.

While he did not elaborate on the possibility of ‘splitting’ his post’s dual command over CYBERCOM and NSA, General Nakasone did confirm that he has submitted an assessment of the dual-hat model to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Whatever the eventual organizational structure may be, Nakasone stressed that two types of partnerships will remain critical: those between government agencies (e.g. NSA and government agencies responsible for defending critical infrastructure), and those between government and the private sector.

General Nakasone heavily emphasized the importance of recruiting and retaining a workforce that consists not only of top-tier talent, but also fully represents the diversity of the country. Noting that NSA receives 17,000 applications per month, General Nakasone expressed confidence that, despite competition from the private sector, NSA will continue to attract elite talent because of its national security mission.

General Nakasone also explained that NSA and CYBERCOM are developing and applying innovative technologies (e.g. artificial intelligence/machine learning, quantum computing, and wearable devices) to both defensive and offensive missions.

Following his prepared remarks, General Nakasone participated in a discussion moderated by former NSA Deputy Director Rick Ledgett. Topics included how NSA is mitigating insider threats, how NSA is modernizing the acquisition process, and how to build up U.S. cyber deterrence. When asked whether the 2020 elections will be secure, General Nakasone asserted that NSA is committed to combating foreign interference.

From Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property, to Russian interference in U.S. democratic processes, to North Korean and Iranian cyberattacks on U.S. companies, General Nakasone argued that NSA and CYBERCOM must join in a whole-of-nation effort to challenge the “free movement” of adversaries in cyberspace with “a strategy of persistent engagement, to build resilience at home, defend forward, and contest adversary campaigns and objectives through continuous cyberspace operations.”

“Your adversary never rests, so why would you ever rest?” General Nakasone asked. “It's not the large that eat the small in this environment. It's the fast that eat the slow.”

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