The National Security Agency (NSA) issued its first Cybersecurity Year In Review report, highlighting key achievements from 2020 – including encryption work for the Pentagon – and looking ahead to threats for 2021.

The NSA launched its Cybersecurity Directorate in October of 2019 to “prevent and eradicate” cyber threats to the United States.

“As we began our first year, we took a deliberate approach to building trust by sharing unclassified threat and cybersecurity advice. We forged deeper relationships with our U.S. government and industry partners to deliver better outcomes than any of us could achieve alone,” Anne Neuberger wrote in the report. Neuberger has served as the agency’s Director of Cybersecurity since 2019, and was recently chosen by President-elect Joe Biden to serve in a newly created cybersecurity role on the President’s National Security Council (NSC).

The report highlights key achievements from the past year, including a push to modernize encryption across the Department of Defense (DoD). The effort both eliminated cryptography “at risk from attack due to adversarial computational advances,” and made it “resistant to exploitation by a quantum computer.”

Additionally, the NSA highlighted achievements such as supporting the 2020 election security defense effort, development efforts of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the creation of the NSA Cybersecurity Twitter handle, @NSACyber.

Looking ahead, NSA warned that China, Russia, and Iran are the three biggest foreign threats for 2021. Reportedly, China is using “widespread intellectual property theft,” Russia is using “cyber operations as a corrosive and destabilizing force across multiple geographic regions,” and Iran “has demonstrated the ability and willingness to launch disruptive cyber operations on critical infrastructure.”

NSA acknowledged 2020 “was a tough year” and going forward, the agency has made a commitment to be more open and transparent about the work it does.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.