Department of Defense, DHS Team for Cyber-Security

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense authorized an agreement laying out some of the ways they will work together to fight cyber-threats.

The Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security have agreed to work closer to fight threats to military and civilian computer systems and networks.

The new memorandum of agreement was reached to coordinate and improve efforts to secure the country's cyber-infrastructure, according to the document (PDF).

"With this memorandum of agreement, effective immediately, we are building a new framework between our departments to enhance operational coordination and joint program planning," Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a joint statement. "It formalizes processes in which we work together to protect our nation's cyber networks and critical infrastructure, and increases the clarity and focus of our respective roles and responsibilities."

As part of the agreement, DoD cyber-analysts will work hand-in-hand with Homeland Security to support the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center. The agreement also provides a full-time senior DHS leader to the National Security Agency, as well as a support team made up of DHS legal specialists and other personnel. It also calls for the NSA to arrange a "Cryptologic Services Group" at the NCCIC at DHS to work with DHS and support the National Cyber Incident Response Plan.

"We will improve economy and efficiency by better leveraging vital technologies and personnel to serve both departments' missions in full adherence to U.S. laws and regulation," Gates and Napolitano continued in the statement. "This memorandum of agreement furthers our strong commitment to protecting civil liberties and privacy."

Officials have routinely called for greater partnerships within the intelligence community and between the government and private sector for cyber-security. In a July progress report on the country's cyber-security posture, government officials said the DHS' NCCIC would work to integrate and synchronize the work of "existing cyber- and communication incident response mechanisms into a unified operations center."

"We look forward to building on this vitally important step toward greater collaboration as we continue to work together on new and better ways to protect our economy and critical networks against evolving threats by those who seek to harm the United States," Gates and Napolitano said in their joint statement.