The responsibility and initiative to protect the networks of the United States is not something that falls on the shoulders of just one government agency.
While the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security may bear the brunt of internet security programs, others are also highly involved. For example, the rise of state-sponsored cyber attacks has forced the State Department to take on a greater role in the new diplomatic approach to cybersecurity.
According to a recent SecurityNewsDaily report, many government organizations have settled into a working relationship when it comes to cybersecurity. Though the partnerships may not always be perfect, they are all working in the same direction.
"The NSA has asked to take a lead role in cybersecurity, but many within the government were and are wary because of the agency’s dubious past record on privacy and civil liberties – notably its secret warrantless wiretapping program, which was exposed by the New York Times in 2005," the report stated.
However the relationships play out, the important part is that the government is doing something to combat cyber attacks. Hackers are becoming increasingly brazen with their attacks, regularly going after government targets. Earlier this summer, members of the Anonymous hacking group infiltrated the network of Department of Defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and posted 90,000 military emails addresses and passwords.
The government needs to do something before the incidents become more malicious and carry serious national security implications.
According to SecurityNewsDaily, it remains unclear as to which organization will take the lead for cybersecurity. Currently, four government agencies – the NSA, DHS, DOD and the FBI – are responsible. In a perfect world, they would be able to coordinate their efforts through President Barack Obama's cybersecurity coordinator, Howard Schmidt, who was appointed in 2009.
But Schmidt's office may not be as powerful as it should be, an expert told the news provider.
"Howard’s job isn’t as strong as he would like, but it has had a good effect," James Lewis, a director and senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told SecurityNewsDaily. He added that the office also lacks appropriate funding.
Congress has also recently thrown its hat into the cybersecurity ring. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada urged Republicans to get on board with cybersecurity efforts and to continue efforts to pass legislation on the issue.