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New Government Agency Designed To Tackle Cyber Threats More Effectively


After 9/11, the U.S. government reorganized itself so intelligence agencies could share more information about possible terrorist attacks. Out of that came the National Counterterrorism Center. Now the Obama administration wants to do the same thing for possible cyberattacks. NPR's Tom Gjelten has the story.

TOM GJELTEN, BYLINE: The White House today announced the creation of a new agency, a place where any cyberattack from anywhere, no matter the target, will be quickly analyzed by government experts.


LISA MONACO: We may have seen exactly that signature, that set of ones and zeros, that a particular malicious cyber actor uses.

GJELTEN: Lisa Monaco, President Obama's counterterrorism adviser, today explained the thinking behind the creation of this agency. When experts have a chance to analyze a cyberattack, she said, they can warn anyone who might be vulnerable.


MONACO: We may say we know what this is, we know who it is, we know how it's going to affect your system and most importantly, we want to tell everybody else.

GJELTEN: The challenge here is that the most worrisome cyberattacks - the ones that could take down a power plant, shut off water supplies or disrupt banking operations - would be mounted against private companies. If this new agency is to be effective, it has to get those private companies to share information with the government. But in the aftermath of Edward Snowden's revelations about government surveillance capabilities, companies like Google and Apple are doing exactly the opposite. They're trying harder to protect their customers' privacy. Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center here today, Lisa Monaco agreed that could be a problem.


MONACO: There is a real concern if we cannot have access to information or evidence that stops terrorist attacks, that stops malicious cyberattacks, that stops crimes.

GJELTEN: She said it should be possible for companies to hold back private information about their customers while still sharing information about the threats they're facing. Tom Gjelten, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Gjelten reports on religion, faith, and belief for NPR News, a beat that encompasses such areas as the changing religious landscape in America, the formation of personal identity, the role of religion in politics, and conflict arising from religious differences. His reporting draws on his many years covering national and international news from posts in Washington and around the world.