Obama to unveil cyber data-sharing unit

The White House is expected to reveal on Tuesday a new unit tasked with integrating the intelligence communities’ cyber data and sharing it with civilian agencies, according to an industry source with knowledge of the announcement.

The unit, dubbed the Cyber Threat and Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC), will fall under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's (DNI) purview. It’s expected to serve as the main portal for intelligence agencies to share cyber threat data with agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI.

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The announcement is part of the White House’s broader strategy to enhance cybersecurity information sharing both among federal agencies and between the government and private sector.

For years, much of this sharing has been seen as ad hoc, lacking a smooth or Congressionally codified process.

The lack of a clear process has made privacy advocates wary that increasing information sharing between the government and private sector will only bolster intelligence agencies’ abilities to collect Americans' personal information.

The privacy community has been especially hesitant about data shared with the intelligence community following government leaker Edward Snowden’s disclosure of several secret spy programs.

Congress and the White House have made efforts to address these concerns.

Late last year Congress passed a few bills that finally outlined the DHS’s cybersecurity role. The measures also officially authorized the department’s own cyber info-sharing hub, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC).

The NCCIC, housed within a civilian agency, is seen as a less controversial info sharing partner than the intelligence community.

The White House has been making strides to put the NCCIC at the center of the government’s cyber info-sharing efforts.

In January, President Obama unveiled a legislative proposal that would give legal liability protections to companies sharing cyber threat data with the NCCIC.

On Friday, Obama is expected to announce an executive action that makes it easier for private companies to exchange cyber data with the NCCIC.

The NCCIC will apparently start getting cyber data from the intelligence community through the soon-to-be-announced CTIIC.

The FBI is also expected to use the CTIIC for cyber data.

The bureau serves as a lead agency investigating a variety of cyber crimes, including high-profile data breaches and cyber espionage.

The FBI was the agency that first pinned the Sony Pictures hack on North Korea. It also often notifies companies they have been hacked and issues warnings to private companies about popular cyberattacks.

A senior administration official said White House counterterrorism czar Lisa Monaco would make the announcement Tuesday during a speech at the Wilson Center.

“The CTIIC will be a national cyber threat intelligence center that will 'connect the dots' between various cyber threats to the nation so that relevant departments and agencies are aware of these threats in as close to real time as possible,” the official said.

The agency’s mission will include providing integrated all-source analysis of foreign cyber threats, improving intelligence sharing among federal cybersecurity centers and facilitating efforts by the government to counter foreign cyber threats.

“No existing agency has the responsibility for performing these functions, so we need these gaps to be filled to help the federal government meet its responsibilities in cybersecurity,” the official said.

--Justin Sink contributed to this report, which was updated on Feb. 10 at 7:57 a.m.