Chris Inglis and Gathering Cyber ​​Storm

Chris Inglis’s new White House office feels entrepreneurial. There are tables, chairs, a coffee machine and a poster hanging on the wall. But as the head of the newly established Office of the National Cyber ​​Director, Inglis must do all he can while still advising President Joe Biden on the smartest way to prevent and respond to cyber attacks in the United States.

Inglis has had many dialogues with the President, and the President made it clear that the government can play a role in protecting the private sector and assisting the private sector in protecting critical infrastructure. Inglis said that the president knows that this means that the government needs to keep its network houses in order.

But like any real startup, Inglis’s resources are scarce. After being confirmed by the Senate for more than three months, he still does not have enough manpower to undertake his timely and critical tasks.That’s because of the funds in his office—some 21 million USDPart of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that is passing Congress is still in the political spin cycle. Why does this matter?

“The threat is bigger than I remember,” Inglis told me at AFCEA and INSA last month Intelligence and National Security Summit At the National Harbor in Maryland. “Fearless, brazen, threshold crossing everywhere; we are in a difficult place.”

While waiting for Congress to take action, he said that he will spend about 50% of his time defining his role, and be careful not to repeat the work that other agencies and departments have already done. At the same time, he spends 50% of his time establishing what is important in the future. Relationships. Eventually, he is expected to have about 75 employees who will work closely with CISA, the cyber staff of the National Security Council, OMB and other agencies. Inglis joked that the remaining 50% of his time is spent studying how to attract the best talent in the country.

“People are starting to flow into the organization. I believe we are about to usher in a breakthrough moment, not for the national network director, but for the contribution we can and should make. I am sober about the nature of the challenge and I am optimistic that we can make a difference .”

He is very optimistic. He didn’t even complain that he was given a key mission of US national security, and then had to wait for a political show to take action.

“This is a half-ray of hope, because we don’t have time to think about how to apply our resources.”

While Inglis has been waiting, he and his small team have time to think about four things they want to focus on immediately.

First, simplify the role and responsibilities of the government in protecting the public and private sectors from cyber attacks. He also talked about the importance of resource allocation at the confirmation hearing. Although the National Network Director’s Office has no right to transfer funds, it does have the responsibility of Inglis to account for network funds.

“One of the most critical gaps in the network is that the physical digital infrastructure is not built in accordance with common standards. Administrative orders related to this require us to install basic procedures within a certain period of time, such as multi-factor authentication and storage material encryption. This is for us It is a challenge and a potential weakness. We need to make sure that we make these investments to make up for the lack of investment over the years.

The second gap is the talent gap related to the number of people required to do these jobs. This is not just a person who owns IT or a network in their name, but a general awareness of the network. It takes some time, attention and financial resources to raise awareness among the parties who are truly responsible (such as the heads of agencies and departments). We must ensure that they do not see the network as a cost center, but as a facilitator for all users, because they understand their roles and responsibilities.

He acknowledged that a certain level of education is still needed within the government to achieve the goal.

This is usually the case for the government and the private sector,” he said. “We need to think about and invest in the network in this way so that we can achieve our mission and not hinder it. I think education is the most important and effective way to solve this problem. Then, make sure that the accountability system is consistent and coordinated. We tend to take risks in one place and expect someone in another place to mitigate risks they don’t understand. We need to operate in a collaborative manner and get rid of the division of labor. This is a non-cooperative agreement and allows the opponent to provoke us all at once. “

Inglis said that working together must start at home. “The administrative order issued in May has begun to set common expectations for the hardware, software, and practices that we need to start in these areas,” he said. “Externally, if we have a departmental risk management agency working with the private sector to support and participate in key components of this infrastructure, we need to make sure you don’t need a PhD. In government, know who to deal with and from whom What do you get there.”

He advocated that the government also put “valuable materials” on the table. “This may be our appeal,” Inglis said. “We may be able to solve and reduce responsibilities, or provide clues to the company about what is about to happen, because the government can obtain superb intelligence. If this setting is feasible, we also need a place for collaboration. Information does not cooperate, people will cooperate.”

Inglis likes to point out CISA and Joint network collaboration“They put people from the private and public sectors together to discover the threats that expose us to common risks. This project establishes the possibility of implicit collaboration for our subsequent work on the common operation chart. The government can consider The idea of ​​private sector companies becoming proprietary systems and enriching and categorizing them for processing in their systems.”

Using what he called “all the tools in the toolkit,” Inglis also pointed out the importance of international relations, which is very consistent with the White House Ransomware International Summit held in Washington last week, which focused on closer of Cryptocurrency standards, Among other things. “Except for the Five Eyes Alliance, how do other like-minded countries view the expected behavior in this matter? What is the appropriate government action,” he asked.

Inglis has been actively participating in the President’s recent cyber operations.He participated in the White House meeting with technology leaders In August Inglis said this was hosted by President Biden, who spent the first hour sharing his vision of how the country should focus on collaborative integration. “The companies represented are not only companies like Microsoft and Apple, but also people operating in critical infrastructure areas,” Inglis said. “Educators represent the people, which reflects the president’s view that cyberspace is not only a technology, but also an integral part of the people. They are a major link in the chain, and we need to assign roles and responsibilities correctly.”

Inglis said that while waiting for funds to fully staff his office, he is also considering coordinating resources and aspirations. Management expectations will be important. Over the years, people’s frustration has been growing because some people believe that the government has not responded to some of the biggest hacking attacks in history. The definition of “the time and place we choose” as a response is outdated, and some Americans are tired of a government not responding in a more public way to the US beatings it sees in cyberspace.

So I asked Inglis whether he should set a red line on the network.

“Red lines are good and bad,” he replied. “They are clear and crisp, and everyone knows what they are. The downside is that because of this, the opponent knows exactly how far they can go. This means that you set up a slightly looser environment. The red line also has no context; yes. At that time, the defenders paid for ransomware for a reason. As a policy issue, the US government does not pay for ransomware, but I think at some point there will be a situation where hospitals will confront the Russian state, and actual lives and safety will be threatened. If there is no other way to retrieve the material, in order to re-engage in life-saving work, they will reconsider whether the red line is the red line under certain circumstances. I think the right thing to do here is not to use scripted reactions to determine the hardship of things. Threshold, but to outline what we are prepared to defend and what principles we will use to defend these things. When a nation-state is at risk in cyberspace and dynamic space, we promise to protect the private sector and let our opponents know this. I I think this will be more conducive to changing the decision-making calculus and creating useful ambiguity as to when and where we intervene.”

Inglis said he also thought a lot about resilience now and in the future. Given that the White House estimates that there are currently nearly half a million public and private sector cybersecurity job vacancies, this is a focus of attention.

“This is a big problem,” Inglis said. “However, the more insidious problem is that the 320 million people who use the Internet in the United States do not know how to stand on the front line of this problem. There is a conscious question that requires us not to let Python programmers leave them, but to make sure they understand this. The nature of the field.”

Everyone has heard an old saying that time is money, but in Inglis’s case, time is safety, so I asked him straightforwardly if he thinks the government has acted quickly on the Internet.

“The government is moving fast; the question is whether it is at the necessary speed. I don’t think anyone is moving at the necessary speed. Some are moving at the speed of light, but in the final analysis, we need an integrated method of collaboration. Although we will not command uniformly, but I think there needs to be a general sense of urgency so that we can stay awake during the game.”

Congress, are you listening? Oh, by the way, that poster in Inglis’s office? It says, “A few hours have passed since the last surprise.”

As a start-up company that may have too few resources at the beginning and usually doesn’t understand how all the ticket gates work, we are occasionally surprised,” Inglis said. “When we encounter these surprises and find people with deep expertise When you come to help us solve these problems, we will get what we need. However, we are not yet a full-featured, full-featured, and full-featured organization. We are trying to build someone else’s plane, and we are free fall from our own plane. We have parachutes and we can land safely, but sometimes it’s a bit challenging. “

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