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Industry Can Bridge the IT Gap Between Intelligence and Defense Communities

Chris Cleary, Director of Federal Cyber Strategy, Tenable

May 22, 2018  |  Cyber Security  •  IT Modernization


As cyber missions become a routine part of our military strategy, the intelligence community (IC) and warfighters need to find common ground in order to produce the strongest cyber force in the world.

The federal government doesn’t have to take on this task alone. The private sector can play a big role in bridging that gap by expanding and standardizing the technology needed to fight some of our toughest cyber adversaries.

My experience at United States Cyber Command, which is charged with centralizing cyberspace operations between the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), opened my eyes to the clash between these two organizations and the effects on our cyber security posture.

Historically tension has always existed between the DoD and intelligence agencies and their respective approaches to cyber security have proven to be no exception. As I saw the warfighter begin to introduce himself into the intelligence community, there was some initial resistance.

The situation began to improve in 2012 when the DoD created the Cyber Mission Force, which consists of 133 cyber mission teams. The force includes 13 national mission teams, 68 cyber protection teams, 27 combat mission teams and 25 support teams.

Officially, the Cyber Mission Force is tasked with defending DoD networks and ensuring data is protected, supporting joint military commander objectives and defending U.S. critical infrastructure.

And though this initiative has helped the IC and warfighting communities finally take the time to understand each others’ roles in defending against and preventing cyber attacks, a lot more needs to be done to bring the two communities together and truly operationalize cyber security functions.

While the DoD and NSA have taken the lead in staffing and training those stepping into the Cyber Mission Force, one key component is lagging behind—equipping these cyber warriors with the best technology possible.

Neither agency alone can take on that task—the final step in bringing together both communities for a common mission. That’s where industry can play a huge role in bridging the gap between the IC and the warfighter, effectively making our cyber posture stronger, healthier and more efficient.

While the DoD has been a leader in advancing technology for decades, in recent years, the private sector has moved into the role of innovator. Companies like Tenable can help the Pentagon deploy standardized cyber security solutions across the military services.

Think of it this way: the Air Force doesn’t build planes. Instead, they set the rules and expectations and contract the design and production out to the industry experts like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

The same thinking needs to be applied to IT and cyber security solutions. As DoD cyber operations continue to scale, the Pentagon is going to have to reach out to industry more and more.

The days of an amalgamation of commercial tools thrown together on a laptop should be laid to rest. Those kinds of tools are ineffective and inefficient, often going years without proper updates.

At Tenable, it is our business to create and support technology so the DoD and IC don’t have to worry about whether systems will work when they’re needed most. With all the work these agencies have done to unite both communities through training and manpower, Tenable can help with the final step— providing the most secure solutions to enable these cyber warriors to protect our country.

Our solutions provide the DoD with the visibility and critical context they need to mitigate cyber risks.  We offer active scanning and passive network monitoring to discover and assess vulnerabilities as well as find rogue mobile devices on the network.

As the private sector steps up to the plate, it’s our job to make sure the federal government is well equipped to handle any cyber threat thrown at it.

For more information about how Tenable is supporting the DoD check out our website of public sector offerings.


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