The Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security have breathed the same air on cybersecurity for seven years, but it's taken until today for the two executive branch departments to make their union official.
According to a memo made public today, DHS will assign a senior officer to the National Security Agency, and a "Joint Coordination Element" will be set up to coordinate Defense Department and Homeland Security responses to domestic cyber emergencies. The NSA will in turn provided support elements to DHS, and will move a dozen personnel to DHS's main cybersecurity response campus in Fairfax County, Virginia. DHS cyber cops and managers will be permanently stationed at the headquarters of Cyber Command, at Fort Meade in Maryland. Several DHS analysts will be detailed to the NSA's National Threat Operations Center, which is the intelligence community's cybersecurity warning center.
The goal is to "better protect against threat to civilian and military systems," a senior Defense Department official told reporters on a conference call. "The threats we face cross jurisdictional boundaries, and it's important that we bring together capabilities to respond as one nation."
The new cooperation will make it easier for the NSA to lend its expertise to emergency domestic cyber threats under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, rather than through direct contact with the private sector entity under threat, officials said.