The Obama administration has announced the formation of a new national security agency focused on combatting cyberattacks by facilitating intelligence sharing between government agencies called the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC).

Speaking at the Wilson Center, White House Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco announced the new agency and described why President Obama thought it necessary to add another cyber intelligence agency to the federal government.

Cyber Attacks On The Rise

"The threat is becoming more diverse, more sophisticated, and more dangerous," said Monaco at the Wilson Center Director's Forum on Tuesday. "We are at a crossroads and the clock is ticking."

"The actions we take today -- and those we fail to take -- will determine whether cyberspace remains a great national asset, or increasingly, becomes a strategic liability," said Monaco.

She cited government figures that described a marked increase of cyber threats in frequency, scale, sophistication, and severity. "Annual reports of data breaches have increased roughly five fold since 2009," she said. "No one, it seems, is immune."

Sony Hack Was a "Game Changer"

Monaco cited recent incidents including the recent Anthem customer data breach, ISIS's social media recruitment, and the JP Morgan hacking.

In particular, Monaco described the devastating Sony Pictures hack based around the release of the movie "The Interview" as an impetus for the creation of the CTIIC.

 "It was a game changer," Monaco described the Sony hack, the responsibility for which the U.S. Government officially placed on North Korea.

"Because it wasn't about profit," she continued. "It was about a dictator trying to impose censorship and to prevent the exercise of free expression."

CTIIC's Blueprint

Monaco said the new Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center was not intended to be another information-vacuuming bureau like the National Security Agency, but rather would "analyze and integrate intelligence already collected," from the NSA and other, but with a focus on identifying cyber attackers and threats. "That will enable the existing cyber centers to be more effective."

In that way, the CTIIC is modeled after the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which was created after the Sept. 11 attacks. That agency pulls together threat information from various intelligence agencies and helps identify and share important intelligence on threats across the agencies within the Department of Homeland Security. "We need to develop the same muscle memory for cyber threats that we have in counterterrorism," said Monaco.

But the CTIIC will also work with private companies to include additional threat data in its database. "To truly protect Americans online, we have to work in lockstep with the private sector," said Monaco. "We won't leave the public sector to fend for itself."

At the heart of its mission, the CTIIC will attempt to quickly identify those behind cyber attacks, whether state-sponsored, stateless organizations, or individuals. The agency will also seek to enhance the adoption the National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST) Cybersecurity framework, increase international cooperation on cybersecurity, support the adoption of next generation cyber security tools, and improve the ability of the U.S. to stop, respond to, and recover from cyber attacks.

"We are at a transformational moment," emphasized Monaco. "Our prosperity and security depend upon the Internet being secure against threats."

Watch the announcement video below:

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