Dec 22, 2018

Why there won't be a Department of Cybersecurity anytime soon

Photo: Justin Tierney/EyeEm via Getty Images

The idea that the United States needs a centralized, federal Department of Cybersecurity has long bounced around D.C.

The argument for a separate department is pretty simple. Cybersecurity is an issue of growing importance, and it's one that many other nations, including Israel and England, consolidate under one roof. But don't expect to see one anytime soon, said Suzanne Spaulding, former head of the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate (now called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency).

For one, the United States is, however, much bigger than either England or Israel (or both combined). And in a new paper for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Spaulding argues that a centralized system might weaken security for agencies and the organizations they protect.

  • "A significant piece of risk management is understanding the impact of cyberattacks to a business beyond its computer networks," said Spaulding. "Creating a cyber department, you separate IT people from missions people."
  • The Department of Homeland Security, she believes, is better equipped than a third-party agency to work on security standards for the critical infrastructure it is tasked with protecting.

The bottom line: Spaulding isn't saying that there's no use for centralized services. DHS provides many cybersecurity services across the government.

  • But granting regulatory or advisory authority to a new agency would sacrifice the institutional understanding the current agencies already have of their charges.

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People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 378,289 — Total deaths: 11,830 — Total recoveries: 20,003Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill
  4. Federal government latest: Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week — Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
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Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents him from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

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