US boosts cyber strategy and names new NSA and cyber command chief


US President Joe Biden has announced his selection for the critical role overseeing US cyber warfare and defence.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, presently the deputy commander of Cyber Command, is expected to succeed Army Gen. Paul Nakasone as the leader of both the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command. This news was confirmed by a source who wished to remain anonymous discussing private personnel matters.

Once confirmed, Haugh will play a significant role in vital US initiatives aimed at fortifying Ukraine’s cybersecurity and facilitating the exchange of information with Ukrainian forces currently opposing Russia’s incursion. He will also manage endeavours to identify and halt foreign intervention in American elections, as well as initiatives targeting criminals instigating ransomware attacks that have compromised hospital systems and, at one stage, a vital U.S. fuel pipeline.

The nomination of Haugh signifies the White House’s commitment to maintaining the “dual-hat” structure, where one person leads both the NSA and Cyber Command. This leadership model has been contested by some Republicans who argue that the importance of each organisation necessitates a full-time leader. However, the Biden administration formed a study group last year to review this structure and found merit in maintaining it.

The group concluded that having one individual in charge of both agencies reflected the structure of U.S. allies’ cyber and intelligence operations, facilitating faster action on critical information. The review found that a single leader streamlined decisions, enabling the U.S. to act swiftly on intelligence rather than having information circulate through both organisations’ leadership before a recommendation could be made.

Haugh, a career signals intelligence officer and Bronze Star recipient, is prepared to assume this critical role. His new appointment underlines the ongoing commitment of the Biden administration to strengthen US cyber defence and support allies in critical regions.

Air Force deputy commander of Cyber Command, Timothy Haugh said, “This role signifies our ongoing commitment to strengthening US cybersecurity, and I am honoured to be entrusted with such responsibility.”

Earlier this year, the US government approved a ‘hack-back’ approach to dealing with foreign adversaries.

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