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Obama's Intelligence Chief: NSA Should Have Wider Role In Cybersecurity

Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair tells House committee that the National Security Agency has the expertise, but must win public's trust
The National Security Agency (NSA) got another nod as a potential key player in the U.S.'s cybersecurity strategy when Dennis Blair, director of National Intelligence, told a House intelligence committee (PDF) that the NSA "has the greatest repository of cybertalent."

During testimony earlier this week before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Blair said the NSA's expertise "should be harnessed and built on as we're trying to protect more than just our intelligence networks or our military networks as we expand to our federal networks and to our critical infrastructure networks."

He acknowledged that the NSA hasn't exactly won the trust of the American public when it comes to civil liberties. Blair asked Congress to help in "finding a way that the American people will have confidence in the supervision, in the oversight of the role of NSA, so that it can help protect these wider bodies."

Blair said ironing out the NSA's role, as well as its oversight, will be a key issue during the next few months.

Lately the NSA's role in cybersecurity has been on homeland security experts' radar screen. The administration's reported front-runner for a possible cybersecurity czar slot, homeland security expert Paul Kurtz, also recently cited the NSA as a key player in cybersecurity. Kurtz, who worked on the Obama transition team but is not part of the new administration, said in his keynote address at Black Hat DC that the key to fighting cyberattacks is combining intelligence data with data gathered by law enforcement and industry experts: "We're not connecting the dots," he said. "I would argue that the NSA does have a very important role [in this]."

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