Maybe It Is All About Cyber Education and Training

July 29, 2015
By Terry Roberts

Creating the next generation of top leadership is no less important than basic instruction.

Last week I had the great honor to moderate a National Intelligence University (NIU) Foundation event at the Hart Senate Building focused on cyber intelligence and information sharing policy and practice. As it happens, I am a longtime graduate—which I hate to admit equates to three decades ago at the then-Defense Intelligence College—of the NIU Masters of Strategic Studies. And frankly I owe my 30-year love of scientific and technical intelligence to the artificial intelligence courses that NIU offered me and that I pursued with gusto at that time.

All of this broadened my professional grounding and engaged my imagination, paving the way for my eventual career focus on information operations and cyber intelligence, which I pursued starting in 1998. So thank you NIU for first opening my eyes to cyber—a most challenging and exciting career field.

In this year of 2015, the cost of cyber crime, fraud and disruption to the United States in particular is the greatest globally, because we are the most targeted country in the world. This is true across sectors, but especially so in our energy sector, our defense and financial services and our technology and communications. Frankly, our government, industry and society as a whole is being robbed—from bad actors within and outside of the country—on a scale never before seen, and in my estimation often going undetected or unprosecuted or both.

So where can the current U.S. government—the administrative branch and the legislative branch—empower the public the most to drive ahead of these cyber adversaries? This is where the NIUF event guest speakers came in: two amazing thought leaders in Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (PDDNI) Stephanie O’Sullivan, and the senator from Maine, Susan Collins. They discussed how they and their teams are approaching solutions to this challenge.

In their respective opening remarks, it became apparent that while they are both are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about making headway on cyber intelligence and information sharing, they come at it from very different vantage directions. As to be expected, O’Sullivan is working to hone the role and impact of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center, or CTIIC.

O’Sullivan mentioned several key points: The CTIIC is meant to be a relatively small entity of no more that 50 intelligence community professionals; it will link to and leverage the cyber intelligence efforts of each intelligence community entity as appropriate; and the CTIIC will enable a unified “voice” for key cyberthreat intelligence insights and analysis across the intelligence community and in support of all of government. As with the president’s daily brief staff, this group will work continuously with all intelligence community members and government customers to vet, integrate and coordinate cyberthreat intelligence analysis. And it will not be an interlocutor with industry.

Sen. Collins is understandably focused on getting key information sharing legislation finally passed, stating that it could come to the floor of the Senate for vote as early as next month. She said she believes the CTIIC may not be necessary.

Ironically, my key takeaway was really all about NIU and how critical educating and broadening government junior and mid-level professionals is so they can aspire to be to become the future PDDNI O’Sullivan and Sen. Collins—active thought leaders and implementers of critical next generation approaches and statutes. We need the NIU approach to scale.

Terry Roberts, a former deputy director of Naval Intelligence, is the founder of CyberSync Inc.

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