Washington: The Obama administration unveiled plans Tuesday for a new US intelligence center to integrate information about cyber threats, aiming for the same kind of coordination used to battle terrorism.
The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center will be led by the Director of National Intelligence and will "analyze and integrate information already collected under existing authorities," said Lisa Monaco, a special adviser to President Barack Obama for homeland security and counterterrorism.
Monaco told a forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington that the government`s response to cyber attacks and threats must follow the same model as the response to terrorism after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
"We need to develop the same muscle memory in the government response to cyber threats as we have for terrorist incidents," she said.
Monaco noted that the attack on Sony Pictures last year -- which Washington blamed on North Korea -- was "a game changer, because it wasn`t about profit; it was about a dictator trying to impose censorship and prevent the exercise of free expression."
She said the threats in cyberspace have been rising and pose serious risks to the nation."No one, it seems, is immune -- from health care companies and universities to the tech industry, critical infrastructure and entertainment sector," Monaco said.
"Inside the US government, we know that state and non-state actors, terrorists, hackers and criminals are probing our networks every day -- seeking to steal, spy, manipulate and destroy data."
A senior administration official said earlier that the new entity "will be a national cyber threat intelligence center that will `connect the dots` between various cyber threats to the nation so that relevant departments and agencies are aware of these threats in as close to real time as possible," the official said.
The mission will be similar to that of the National Counterterrorism Center -- to integrate data on foreign cyber threats and ensure that US government centers responsible for cybersecurity have access to intelligence and tools to respond to threats.
Obama has launched a fresh effort to persuade Congress to pass legislation to encourage better cooperation between the government and private sector, an effort stalled since his first proposal in 2011.
Earlier efforts on cybersecurity legislation have stalled amid opposition from civil libertarians who feared it could allow too much government snooping and conservatives who argued it would create a new bureaucracy.
One contentious part of the proposal is a shield of liability for companies that share information about cyber threats with the Department of Homeland Security.
Monaco said the government needs to coordinate better with the private sector to combat cyber threats.
"We`re not going to bottle up our intelligence -- if we have information about a significant threat to a business, we`re going to do our utmost to share it," she said.
But Monaco also maintained that the flow of information should "go both ways."
"When companies share information with us about a major cyber intrusion or a potentially debilitating denial of service attack, they can expect us to respond quickly," she said.
"We will provide as much information as we can about the threat to assist companies in protecting their networks and critical information."