The cyber domain is an ever-changing landscape and the best way to gain an advantage and mitigate possible threats is constant surveillance, said David Frederick, the executive director at the U.S. Cyber Command.

“We’d like to say Cyber Command is the away game in the Federal government cybersecurity mission,” Frederick said on Sept. 7 during the Billington Cybersecurity Summit.

“We have cyber mission teams operating every day learning more and more about the adversaries and possible cyber risks. The domain is changing all the time and having this knowledge in your hands allows you to be prepared for possible cyberattacks or mitigating a possible threat,” he explained.

Previously, cyber was classified as an issue law enforcement handled. This is no longer the case. Cybersecurity is now an issue that the Federal government must get involved in, from senior IT experts to entry-level operatives.

The Cyber Command, Frederick explained, has set up a cyber task force within its Sovereign National Mission Force that tracks major ransomware actors every day.

“We also work very closely with our partners within the intelligence community and the FBI cyber division in this effort,” Frederick said.

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In addition, Frederick explained that the information gained through this constant surveillance is shared with agencies across the Federal government and with international allies. This interagency and international collaboration provide the Federal government with an understanding of who malicious actors are and how to defend against them.

“Cybersecurity is a team sport with many different players,” Frederick said. “Collaborating with our partners, domestically and internationally, enables us to understand who malicious cyber actors are and how they operate. We have also been able to take information and share it back and strengthen domestic defense.”

One example of international collaboration is the agency’s recent partnership in Croatia in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine in the fall of 2021. As the agency began to see indications that Russia might invade, they “joined hands with Ukrainians and … supported them.”

“Our partnerships, internationally and domestically, really are our best weapon to staying ahead and mitigating cyber threats,” Frederick said.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.