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CIA to up cyber capability in sweeping overhaul

CIA director John Brennan outlined the proposed changes to the agency in a message to staff described as a ‘Blueprint for the Future’

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The CIA is to carry out a radical overhaul of its operations, ramping up its capability to deal with cyber threats while boosting integration between departments via a network of new units, a statement said Friday.

Central Intelligence Agency director John Brennan outlined the proposed changes to the agency in a message to staff described as a “Blueprint for the Future” covering four key areas.

Brennan said the U.S. espionage agency would set up a new “Directorate of Digital Innovation” to reflect the rapidly evolving cyber landscape.

“We must place our activities and operations in the digital domain at the very center of all our mission endeavors,” Brennan wrote.

“To that end, we will establish a senior position to oversee the acceleration of digital and cyber integration across all of our mission areas.”

The changes reflect the increasing emphasis on cybersecurity by the United States after a series of high-profile digital breaches in recent years such as the Sony Pictures hack later blamed on North Korea.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last month told lawmakers that foreign cyberattacks represented a bigger threat to national security than terrorism.

U.S. media reports said Brennan’s sweeping changes would affect thousands of employees at the agency.

A centerpiece of the overhaul would be the establishment of 10 new “Mission Centers” aimed at enhancing integration between departments.

“Never has the need for the full and unfettered integration of our capabilities been greater,” Brennan said in his message. “We must take some bold steps toward more integrated, coherent and accountable mission execution.”

Analysts said the introduction of Mission Centers was intended to eliminate divisions between traditional departments covering the Middle East, Africa and other regions.

Several U.S. media reports said the new units would be modeled on the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, which grew exponentially in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Brennan said the new centers would “bring the full range of operational, analytic, support, technical and digital personnel and capabilities to bear on the nation’s most pressing security issues.”

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