DHS, DOD negotiating logistics of cyber partnership

The Defense and Homeland Security departments are still working out how to jointly secure cyberspace, according to a top DHS official.

The Defense and Homeland Security departments have been divvying up cyberspace responsibilities for awhile now, but the process is constant and fluid, according to a top official who acts as a cyber liaison.

The directives on cybersecurity over the past few years are continually getting new specifications and being refined and integrated, according to Navy Rear Adm. Michael Brown, DHS director, cybersecurity and coordination, and senior rep to U.S. Cyber Command. Brown spoke July 15 at the AFCEA Cybersecurity Symposium in Washington.

DHS is also working on a homeland-security companion piece to the recently released DOD Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace, Brown said, although he did not elaborate beyond saying they are determining how to implement such guidance.

“We’re looking very hard at how to synchronize operations,” and DHS is working with all of DOD, including the U.S. Cyber Command, Brown said.

Brown stressed the need for unity of effort, and for the organizations to bring together their capabilities and capacities and be proactive and predictive in their defense strategies. Such an approach requires a different model of leadership and chain of command, he added.

“The traditional model of someone being in charge won’t work,” Brown said. “We need to have unity of effort in command and control even before something happens.”

Brown also called for improved, shared situational awareness that is built on a real-time operational picture at multiple levels, with multiple partners, including the private sector. That awareness will require better information-sharing across the board, he said.

The private sector is also essential for helping develop the high-tech tools necessary for cybersecurity, Brown said.

“We need analytical tools that corroborate [and] collate – tools that take the strength of humans and apply it to the strength of technology,” he said.