Amidst the maelstrom of unceasing cyber attacks and intrusions, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC or Center) assumes a front-and-center role as the government command and communication center. As a part of the Department of Homeland Security (the Department), the NCCIC is charged with sharing information about cybersecurity intrusions, incidents, risks, and analysis within both the public and private sectors. The purported objective is to warn and protect individuals, families and businesses in the United States from cyber attacks, help them minimize the risks, and educate them about responding to the incident, as well as containing the damage from a breach and enhancing preparedness for the next one. A fast incident response can mean a faster recovery with less fallout and less to mitigate. The NCCIC’s functions were codified when Congress passed the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014 (the Act) as part of a series of cyber security bills enacted last year.

The Act contains much Washington- and techno-speak about the Center’s role, but here are the basics of NCCIC Functions:

  • Acting as the main cyber information center to provide reports on risks, incidents, analysis and warnings
  • Reporting in real time, all facts and circumstances relevant to cyber risks and incidents
  • Coordinating information sharing on cybersecurity risks and incidents throughout the federal government
  • Helping coordinate responses to cyber risks and incidents in various sectors
  • Conducting integration and analysis of cyber risks and incidents in various sectors and sharing the results
  • Providing technical assistance, management support and incident response help when requested
  • Making recommendations and providing information on security and resilience measures to help make information more secure with stronger systems to protect against cyber risks and incidents

Composition of the Center

The Center is required to comprise individuals from a cross-section of a broad-based cyber community,  including representatives of:

  • agencies from several sectors;
  • civilian and law enforcement agencies;
  • the intelligence community;
  • state and local governments;
  • information sharing and analysis organizations; and
  • owners and operators of critical information systems.

In addition, the NCCIC Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team is specifically charged with reducing risks across all critical infrastructure sectors, including the manufacturing and defense industrial base sectors. The Act directs the Department to report to Congress annually on the Center, including its assessment of its capability and capacity to carry out its mission, as well as the number of non-federal participants in the NCCIC, information sharing with each critical infrastructure sector, and privacy and civil liberties safeguards.

Federal Agency Data Breach Notification

Finally, the Act implements individual federal agency data breach notification policies. Under the Act, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget is required to enforce data breach notification policies so that the affected agency notifies Congress within 30 days and that affected individuals are notified as expeditiously as practicable.

The legislative expectation — or at least the hope — is that coordinating and timely sharing relevant information and analysis across Federal agencies, sectors and businesses will support an effective defense against increasingly aggressive, offensive and relentless cyber attacks from around the globe.