Defending Against Cyber Threats: Government Efforts to Protect National Security

Snapshot: Cybersecurity

Snapshot: Cybersecurity

The Department is working to implement the National Cybersecurity Strategy. However, the continued vacancy of the National Cyber Director will affect strategic coordination and accountability.

Adversaries use malicious cyber to generate asymmetric advantages and threaten our military, economic, and global leadership capabilities. The 2022 NDS calls for persistent campaigning in and through cyberspace to deter, disrupt, and defeat these adversaries.

Defend the Nation

The Department defends its information systems and critical infrastructure from cyber espionage, sabotage, and influence operations. In addition, the Department works with allies and industry to share threat information, align DIB contract incentives with cybersecurity requirements, and strengthen preparation, prevention, recovery, and defense readiness efforts.

USCYBERCOM, along with NSA and other Department components, is on a wartime footing every day to meet the threats to federal agencies and the nation’s critical infrastructure, as well as adversaries’ attempts to undermine our democracy, social cohesion, and international stability. The Department’s law enforcement and counterintelligence partners, such as the FBI and National Security Agency, act under Presidential policy directives to identify, disrupt, and discredit malign actors. They also share the lessons learned from their investigations with their private sector colleagues worldwide.

Defend Critical Infrastructure

The public, private, and academic sectors manage the overwhelming majority of critical infrastructure and research and innovation in our country. The Department is working with these entities to improve information sharing, and to encourage reporting of cyber activity that might indicate malicious intent or malfeasance.

Defending the Nation’s critical infrastructure and military readiness requires a continuous, 24x7x365 operation that enables defense-in-depth capabilities and deters adversary attacks by disrupting and dismantling their supporting ecosystems. USCYBERCOM accomplishes this by directing the day-to-day operations of DoD networks, developing threat intelligence and reporting, conducting independent vulnerability assessments, and supporting cybercrime and counterintelligence investigations.

As our adversaries evolve, they seek to use malicious cyber activity as a weapon of pacing, targeting our military and civilian networks to disrupt operational effectiveness. This initiative focuses on building an approach to strategy that deters interference and attack in cyberspace by improving warning capabilities, articulating roles for private sector partners, and establishing risk-based standards.

Defend Against Attacks

Every day, federal agencies fend off tens of thousands of cyberattacks from adversaries. These attacks range from phishing emails hoping to trick an unassuming employee to more sophisticated attacks targeting the government’s most valuable information assets.

These cyber actors, including criminal ransomware gangs and foreign intelligence services, often align their actions with the national security objectives of their host nations. Moreover, these malicious cyber actors are growing in number and sophistication.

NSA combats these threats by preventing and eliminating cyberattacks on national security systems, focusing on the Defense Industrial Base and improving U.S weapons’ security. Additionally, NSA promotes cybersecurity education, research and career-building through a variety of products.

Defend the Joint Force

Malicious cyber activity threatens the networks and infrastructure upon which our military relies. It undermines operational effectiveness, erodes combat readiness and denies the Joint Force the information necessary to defeat adversaries.

The Department serves as Sector Risk Management Agency for the Defense Industrial Base (DIB). We work with DIB companies to reduce risks through initiatives such as the Defense-wide Cybersecurity Program and NSA’s Cybersecurity Collaboration Center. We also align contract incentives to encourage the use of DIB cybersecurity standards.

The Department cannot defend private industry against all cyber attacks. However, our military cyberspace operations are designed to synchronize with and complement concurrent diplomatic, law enforcement and intelligence community efforts in support of national security objectives. This is consistent with the broader whole-of-Government approach of the 2023 National Cyber Strategy.

Defend Against Adversaries

Adversaries exploit the technology Americans rely on day in and out to gain a competitive advantage. Cyber criminals and malicious nation states do not distinguish between industries, business size or geography in their efforts to steal information, interrupt operations, and extort money.

USCYBERCOM operates a continuous, comprehensive approach to meet and counter adversaries’ full spectrum of cyber activity—from espionage to denial-of-service attacks to disrupting U.S. military operations, the economy, and democratic political processes. The command’s 133 teams, authorized in 2012, have evolved to be more offensive than defensive, with their focus on seeing adversary activity and aggressively disrupting it before it causes damage.

The Department will continue to bolster its interagency and international collaborations to better attribute cyberattacks, defend networks, sanction bad behavior, and sequence cyber operations. It will also work with the private sector to improve information sharing and encourage reporting of suspected cyber activity.

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