DoD and Homeland Security to swap cybersecurity staff

The DoD’s National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have announced that they plan to share information and work jointly on cyber security.

The agreement doesn’t change the two organizations’ responsibilities – essentially, military networks for the DoD and Homeland Security for the rest. But each organization will play host to staff from the other to make it easier and cheaper to cooperate.

Teams of half a dozen DoD cyber analysts will go to the DHS to support the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), launched a year ago as a 24-hour cybersecurity response center. Meanwhile, a full-time senior DHS leader will go to the NSA.

“This structure is designed to put the full weight of our combined capabilities and expertise behind every action taken to protect our vital cyber networks, without altering the authorities or oversight of our separate but complementary missions,” say DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and DOD Secretary Robert Gates in a joint statement.

“We will improve economy and efficiency by better leveraging vital technologies and personnel to serve both Departments’ missions in full adherence to US laws and regulation.”

The departments are at pains to point out that the teams will include privacy, civil liberties and legal personnel to make sure that the mark isn’t overstepped.

But privacy campaigners will no doubt be concerned: the agreement is short on detail about how the agencies will actually handle a cyberattack on civilian networks.