The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is in the process of building out its Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) office, and CISA Director Jen Easterly today said that while the office is being established based on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission recommendation of creating a joint collaborative planning office, the JCDC will be about more than just planning.


At the Amazon Web Services Summit, Easterly talked today about the role she expects the JCDC to play in the cyber space and spoke more broadly about CISA’s role in fostering collaboration in the cyber sphere.


“This is a cool thing because uniquely, this is the only federal cyber ecosystem by statute – this came out of this year’s (FY2021) National Defense Authorization Act. It was dreamed up by the Cyberspace Solarium,” Easterly said in a live-streamed talk. “They called it the joint cyber planning office … we call it the JCDC because it is more than just planning.”


“The whole idea is, by statute, you bring together the power of the Federal government – so CISA, NSA (National Security Agency), FBI, ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence), CYBERCOM (U.S. Cyber Command), and DoD (Department of Defense) come together with the power of private industry – to create a common operating picture of the threat environment, to plan an exercise against the most serious threats, and then to implement cyber defense plans against those threats,” Easterly said.


Easterly stressed the importance of utilizing a common operating picture and pointed to a lack of visibility in prior high-profile hacks as a main reason why. Easterly said that the need for visibility helped lead to the initial set of partners that CISA chose for the JCDC and that since then, CISA has had more than 120 entities approach the agency since the initial announcement.


Easterly said she enjoys collaborating with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, as well as the private sector, and sees the Federal government as an important partner on equal footing when it comes to creating a nationally strong cybersecurity posture.


She gave credit to former CISA Director Chris Krebs for laying the foundation for those relationships. Easterly said she has also been working on collaborating with international partners and allies to help learn about their successes and lessons learned.


“A good friend of mine used to say that you know in the national security space, the Federal government has a monopoly, but in the homeland security space, the Federal government is just a co-equal partner with the private sector and with the state and local, tribal and territorial.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.