The heads of the Defense and Homeland Security departments on Wednesday formally agreed to coordinate on cybersecurity in a newly established office, amid a debate over whether the Pentagon, Homeland Security or the White House should have chief responsibility for protecting information networks, Nextgov.com reported.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum of agreement outlining the personnel, tools and facilities the two departments will share to improve collaboration on cyber activities.
Nothing in the document changes existing laws on national security or privacy, according to the memo. Lawmakers and the Obama administration have made cybersecurity a government priority, but have not decided which agencies or officials should be mandated, under law, to lead the effort.
Under the memo, DHS will establish a department cybersecurity coordination director who will work at Defense's National Security Agency, but the official will not be in the NSA chain of command. The individual also will serve as a liaison to Defense's U.S. Cyber Command. Other DHS privacy and legal staff will support the director within the newly created Joint Coordination Element Office, which will be located at NSA.
For its part, Defense will assign a senior-level NSA official to work closely with the DHS cybersecurity coordination director at the new division.
DHS and Defense together will align the functions of Defense's proposed Integrated Cyber Center and the existing DHS National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. To read more, click here.