The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have teamed up to secure critical infrastructure through information-sharing efforts with the private sector firms, an effort that is new, promising and underfunded.
DOD Secretary Jim Mattis and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen recently decided to a structure for protecting the U.S. from cyber threats. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, Kenneth Rapuano told policymakers at a Nov. 14 joint hearing that the joint memorandum is a major step in cultivating closer cooperation and marks a sea change in the level of collaboration between the departments.
In a statement, Rapuano noted that Defense Department and DHS both obtain unique insights from their daily exercises, whether from DOD’s intelligence collection and cyber operations or from DHS’s cyber operations to protect federal networks and critical infrastructure in cooperation with the private sector that notify his agency’s respective missions. He further said that just the day before the hearing, he and DHS officials signed a document chartering the Joint DOD-DHS Cyber Protection and Defense Steering Group. In addition, Rapuano said the group will employ senior leadership energy to improve U.S. Government readiness against cyber threats. Both agencies’ officials told lawmakers at the hearing on cyber incident cooperation that the partnership has been productive, but budget constraints could require legislation. The representative of Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district and ranking member on the DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee, Cedric Richmond pointed out the budgetary disparity and recommended that DHS might need more than USD1 billion to protect infrastructure, the vast majority of which is privately occupied.
Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications at DHS, Jeanette Manfra said that while it comes to resources, Department of Defense steps forward to help DHS when it requested and through that agency’s authorities. The DOD loaned 11 dozen cyber operators to Homeland Security and prepared for disruptions intended to the 2018 midterm elections. In addition, the Homeland Security Department and Defense Department are working together on closing up supply chain vulnerabilities. Manfra added that private agencies use many of the same companies in the defense industrial base, but DHS is coordinating how to apply best practices and information sharing.