The director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is looking to partner with the new Cybersecurity Directorate at the National Security Agency in defending the United States’ critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

At the Billington Cybersecurity conference, which ran Sept. 4-5 in Washington, D.C., Chris Krebs, the director of CISA, said he’s had a relationship of “collaboration and cooperation” with the directorate’s leader Anne Neuberger that he wants to continue. He said he’s worked with her since he joined government, particularity when she took over the Russia Small Group, a task force at NSA looking at Russian threats.

“Now I’m looking at this as a continued evolution of that partnership,” Krebs told reporters after the event. "How can I provide the NSA and the cybersecurity division the guidance and requirements set where they can turn around and help me?”

“This is almost a concept that’s widespread in the Department of Defense and the military. There’s a supporting command and a supported command. We are the supported command. The NSA is providing us information to help us execute our mission — elections is just one example — but [also] broader critical infrastructure.”

Neuberger and Krebs both have similar tasks: protecting critical infrastructure, including elections.

Neuberger said that the cybersecurity directorate, set to begin work Oct. 1, will work to "prevent and irradiate cyber actors from national security systems and critical infrastructure with a focus on the defense industrial base.”

Krebs’s agency, still short of one year old, focuses on assisting federal agencies, state and local governments defend against cyberattacks.

There are other similarities, as well: both rely on information sharing with their audience and provide vulnerability assessments. However, Krebs explained the differences in the two entities missions after the event, telling reporters that “there is no overlap” and that the two agencies complement each other.

“On the election security space, they are very focused on the intelligence piece and the over there,” said Krebs.

"We are very focused on the here — working with state and local election partners, the private sector, and being able to bring in the NSA and their capabilities and Cyber Command and their capabilities in to support those state and local election officials as they defend their networks.”

Andrew Eversden covered all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. Beforehand, he reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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