Has World War 3 already begun? The NSA may know something

This week, the National Security Agency (NSA) made a major announcement regarding America's plan to combat international threats in the midst of an ongoing and seemingly never-ending series of cyber-skirmishes. 

A new unit within the NSA, the Cybersecurity Directorate, will focus on the growing threat to America posed by international hacking and is set to be led by Anne Neuberger.  Neuberger was previously the agency's chief risk officer, its first, a position that was created to plug leaks after the Edward Snowden fiasco.  She also was the NSA's deputy director of operations and, most recently, the former head of an NSA unit known as the Russia Small Group.  That group was tasked with managing threats posed by foreign hackers during the 2018 midterm elections. 

The new group is expected to be operational by this October.  According to the NSA website, the "Cybersecurity Directorate is a major organization that unifies NSA's foreign intelligence and cyber defense missions and is charged with preventing and eradicating threats to National Security Systems and the Defense Industrial Base."  The website also says, "This new approach to cybersecurity will better position NSA to collaborate with key partners across the U.S. government like U.S. Cyber Command, Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

That sounds good on the surface, but will this new group make a significant impact in what we can more easily identify as the embryonic stages of World War 3?  There have been several reshufflings over the past few years at the Department of Homeland Security as well as at the highest levels of America's so-called "Cyber Command."  These changes include the passage of the bipartisan Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Act, which rebranded DHS's main cyber-security unit, known as the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Agency or CISA. This designated CISA as a full-fledged operational component of DHS, similar to the Secret Service or FEMA.

The White House also eliminated the position of cyber-security coordinator in April of 2018.  Former White House cyber-security coordinator Rob Joyce vacated that post to return to the NSA amid a shakeup that also saw Joyce's boss, White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert, pushed out of his position by national security adviser John Bolton.

Continuity and consistency will be key to American cyber-defense efforts as the newest theater of war continues to heat up.  Just last month, the New York Times reported that the United States had executed hacking attacks against Russia's power grid.  The speculation is that these attacks were, in part, a response to the supposed election meddling that was the central theme of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

These revelations came on the heels of a two-pronged cyber-attack that not only disabled a computer network, but could also interfere with half the production of the conventional weapons of war.  The April 2019 attack against raw material–producer Norsk Hydro created a blueprint for state-sponsored hacks that could be executed in the event of total war.  The attack was carried out using a malware strain known as LockerGoga

Malware, a nuisance mainly thought to hold value only for profiteers on the "dark web," has long found a militaristic purpose.  Many experts point to the malware attack of Iran's nuclear program in the beginning of this decade as the genesis of cyber-warfare.  As technology and creativity continue to evolve, the United States will have its work cut out for it, with high-leverage targets like infrastructure serving as low-hanging fruit for countries at a militaristic disadvantage against America. 

Now more than ever, agencies like the newly forming Cybersecurity Directorate will play a critical role in our nation's defense strategy.

Julio Rivera is a NYC-based writer, news personality, columnist, business consultant, and editorial director for Reactionary Times.  His writing, which is concentrated on politics, cyber-security, and sports, has been published by websites including Newsmax, The Washington Times, Breitbart, The Toronto Sun, The Hill, The Washington Examiner, Western Journal, LifeZette, Townhall, American Thinker, The Epoch Times, Real Clear Markets, PJ Media, and many others.  He is a fixture on cable news talk shows, making regular appearances on American and international television.

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