The National Security Agency may break with cyber command

U.S. Defense Department officials have floated a proposal in recent days that would separate the U.S. National Security Agency and U.S. cyber command.

Gen. Paul Nakasone leads the National Security Agency and Cyber Command in a way that allows the two agencies to share resources and coordinate priorities, such as protecting the US election from foreign interference.

According to press sources, a proposal to end the arrangement has been circulated among Pentagon officials in recent days.

Legislators, the military and the intelligence community have pondered the issue of separating the electronic command from the NSA since the creation of the electronic command a decade ago.

Nakasone previously said: Working together allows the NSA and Cyber Command to effectively share indicators of digital breaches and collaborate with other agencies, including the FBI, on national security matters.

Critics of the current organization say: It can introduce bureaucracy that obstructs or prevents any action or decision-making, as it places espionage and military priorities against each other.

The NSA may want to preserve access to targets for monitoring, but the mission of cyber command, at times, is to disable targets.

The possibility of separation has been raised on several occasions in recent years, but the renewed interest in separating the NSA from cyber-leadership coincides with a massive cyber attack against the software supply chain.

Russian hackers spread malware to tens of thousands of victim organizations, including US government agencies.

The US government wants to respond to the cyber attack so widespread that the White House National Security Council activated an emergency response group to sort out the damage in recent days.

The separation idea raises concern to the US government, in part because there are congressional standards that the Department of Defense must fulfill before proceeding with any separation process.

Standards are in place to ensure that separation will not reduce the military effectiveness of cyber leadership.

Adam Smith, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, said: I am deeply concerned about reports that the ministry is seeking to separate the NSA from cyber leadership without consulting Congress or meeting the conditions required by law.

Smith sent letters to Christopher Miller, Acting Secretary of Defense, and Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to demand that the NSA not be separated from cyber leadership.

Miller and Milley need to certify that the move meets conditions that Congress would require before any dismissal.

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