On Tuesday, Feb 1, Neal Ziring, Technical Director at the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Cybersecurity Directorate, joined INSA’s Vice President for Policy Larry Hanauer for a virtual conversation that addressed a range of issues including detecting, preventing, and responding to cyber attacks, cloud security, adoption of cyber best practices, and NSA’s outreach efforts.
Ziring began the discussion by laying out his priorities for 2022. The main challenge he faces is scaling up NSA’s workforce to ensure the Cybersecurity Directorate can disseminate cyber threat information to partners at speed. He is also focused on building up partnerships and using intelligence to mitigate risk.
View Session Recording Below
Special thanks to host sponsor: ManTech
In the current era of Great Power competition, Ziring emphasized the importance of understanding how other nations view the United States’ activities, military capabilities, intelligence community, and defense industrial base. The DIB, in particular, is under constant threat of intellectual property theft so it is important for the NSA to understand which technologies and systems adversaries are targeting and to identify and understand any vulnerabilities.
Regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), Ziring explained that the NSA is investing heavily in human language processing that will assist signals intelligence teams. He and his team are also considering how to best use AI/ML for cybersecurity, including the development of behavioral analysis tools and the assessment of malware. He noted that the NSA is looking at various tools to assist in cyber operations, analytics, and for conventional intelligence missions. However, Ziring also stressed the importance of understanding the security needs of the AI/ML platforms that are being integrated.
To assist in ensuring the cybersecurity of critical systems, NSA seeks to understand the cyber exposure of these key systems. To do so, they are working directly with system owners and the companies that produce the components that are eventually integrated into final systems. Ziring also highlighted the strong collaboration efforts taking place at the NSA’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center. The goal of this center is to provide a venue for collaboration between the public and private sectors, and Ziring hopes these efforts will deny adversaries access to critical systems in the U.S.
Paying for the Shift to Zero Trust