With an evolving cyber threat landscape and adversaries that are growing more sophisticated by the day, National Security Agency (NSA) Director Gen. Paul Nakasone – who also heads United States Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) – today pointed to partnership and collaboration as the best way to protect the nation from cyber threats.

On the final day of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) fourth annual Cybersecurity Summit Oct. 27, Gen. Nakasone said building private-public partnerships in the cybersecurity arena will help ensure that an attack on any allied entity is viewed and treated as an attack on all.

“Our adversaries are exploiting gaps in government policies and authorities to gain and maintain access to our systems while evading detection or response,” Gen. Nakasone said in his keynote remarks. “As the scope of malicious cyber incidents and the sophistication of our adversaries grow, it will take a unified public-private sector strategy to gain the competitive advantage in this environment.”

“Partnership is where our power is,” Gen. Nakasone emphasized. “The combined talent of our partners is the greatest competitive advantage we have to confront these increasingly sophisticated threats to our nation.” The general pointed to fallout from the Colonial Pipe Line hack earlier this year – including panic buying of gasoline and unsafe storage of fuel – as just one example of why the nation needs to collectively step up its cyber defense systems.

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The CYBERCOM commander also pointed to CISA’s new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative as another opportunity for industry and the Federal government to collaborate on the nation’s cybersecurity.

For another example of how partnerships can work, Gen. Nakasone talked about the joint NSA CYBERCOM election security group that teamed up with the FBI, CISA, and private partnerships to create a “force multiplier” to protect the security of the nation’s elections in 2018 and 2020.

“In this era of strategic competition, a threat to one is a threat to all,” Gen. Nakasone concluded. “If you’re an adversary, you’ll need to defeat all of us to defeat one of us.”

“This is the vision of National Cyber Director Chris Inglis, and it’s one I share,” he said. “No single public or private sector entity has perfect visibility into the behavior of these advanced adversaries. But together we can achieve and maintain cyberspace superiority against our adversaries, build resilience at home, and defend forward.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.