The need for greater collaboration and partnership were key themes in the May 27 Wednesday Wisdom program with NSA Deputy Director George Barnes. In the 45-minute conversation moderated by INSA Executive Vice President John Doyon, Mr. Barnes shared details about the stand up of NSA's new Cybersecurity Directorate (CSD) as well as addressed a range of cybersecurity issues from critical infrastructure to big data to COVID-19 and telework policies.
Mr. Barnes noted that the stand-up of the CSD was informed by lessons learned over the past few years, including the continuous calls on the agency for expertise and its positioning in the government and across the world in respect to insights on adversaries. "Part of the directorate calculus was getting back to basics and understanding what must we do that others cannot do...because others can build on those if we do our piece first."
He emphasized the importance of engaging with the public, industry and academia, noting the establishment of the Cybersecurity Collaboration Center, which was built to be an unclassified component of the CSD—"its whole purpose is to engage the outside. That is something new for NSA." Regarding the workforce, Mr. Barnes discussed the national security imperative of a diverse workforce that reflects our country, and the need to develop the next generation of students pursuing STEM and derivatives of STEM learning.
Responding to audience questions, Mr. Barnes addressed the spread of disinformation and misinformation. He asserted that it is critical to push ourselves to understand what is true and what is fabricated. This is especially important in the face of COVID-19, as cyber threats have increased as a result of the pandemic. He also took the time to recognize the hard work of analysts across the community. There is an abundance of available data right now and although algorithms are being developed to sort through some of it, the human piece cannot be replaced.
With over 700 registrants, many viewers were excited to hear what Deputy Director Barnes had to share and, as one attendee noted, were glad that "NSA is receptive to answering tough questions, especially in this time where we are all trying to figure out how to operate normally."
For more on this program, check out this ClearanceJobs article, "Diving into the Newest Directorate of the National Security Agency."