The Office of the National Cyber Director’s (ONCD) long-awaited national cybersecurity strategy (NCS) – widely expected to be released publicly by the White House on March 2 – has one U.S. Cyber Command official looking forward to working toward an era of expanded international partnerships in the global cybersecurity fight.

Col. Candice Frost, commander of the Joint Intelligence Operations Center (JSOC) at the U.S. Cyber Command, said at a Billington Cybersecurity event on Feb. 28 that the NCS will focus in part on expanding those global partnerships.

Asked to comment on themes expected in the NCS, Frost replied, “I think the new strategy is exciting in the fact that we have had authorities provided from the previous administration that really allowed us to lean forward and looking at different threats were there and then really helping partner nations.”

“I think the new strategy will definitely expand on partnership,” Frost said.

“That’s been because [of] what’s gone on with Russia [and] Ukraine and the work that we’ve done with them,” she said. “We were very forward leaning into that.”

“Now as we look at the multiplicity of threats that are out there in cyberspace and how we’re leaning truly forward towards China, where are those actors out there that we’ve got to partner with in different nations,” she asked. “How can we help those teammates that may not be the formal team that we’re used to,” such as those in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, she said.

With parties outside of that alliance, she said, “we’ve got to partner so that we can get on their networks and make sure that – especially those that are manufacturing in the DIB [U.S. Defense Industrial Base] that they are as safe as possible,” including with hardware and software development and associated supply chains.

“So, we’re leaning forward and looking at partner nations that just typically haven’t been as close with us in the past, and it’s been really exciting to see that form,” Frost said.

“Also, what we’ll end up doing is looking in different ways, looking at different aspects, partnering with the combatant commands, forward leaning,” she said.

Speaking at the same Feb. 28 event, Matt Hayden, vice president of cyber threat engagement at General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), said he believes the NCS also will delve into coordination and cooperation with the FBI and the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), and asked about roles for Cyber Command in those relationships.

Frost replied that the best example of that kind of cooperation to date has been efforts surrounding security of U.S. elections.

In the 2022 midterm elections, “we partnered very closely with the FBI, with CISA [Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] and to work together as a collaborative effort to make sure that our elections were as safe as possible,” Frost said.  She rated that effort as having done “pretty well” last year and said “we are still forward leaning for 2024.”

Finally, Frost talked about the development of a Cyber Command Cyber Intelligence Center in partnership with the Defense Intelligence Agency. She did not hazard a guess as to when that center would become operational, but said, “we are forward leaning in the fact that Congress asked us ‘do we need a center that is focused on all-source intelligence to support cyber command in the cyber domain?’ And the answer was a resounding yes, please.”

“My small but hearty brigade worth of people are unable to do that power lift for the Department of Defense as it’s done for the Army by National Ground Intelligence Center and in the Air Force for their Air and Space Center,” Frost said. “So, we’re going to stand that up.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.