CIA Deputy Director for Digital Innovation Jennifer Ewbank stated just lately “the cyber forces and different threats that we confront throughout the digital panorama are formidable and they’re altering the very nature of the intelligence enterprise.”
Ewbank, who spent a lot of her profession with the Company operating abroad operations, famous at The Cipher Transient Risk Convention, not solely how U.S. adversaries have upped their digital recreation, but in addition how the company has been “grappling with handle the explosion in quantity and number of information fueled by technological change,” saying, “It has remodeled the intelligence enterprise in most of the similar methods it’s remodeled the business market and the worldwide financial system as a complete.
Under is her perspective on the evolving digital panorama, the hazards and alternatives inside and what it means for the group she leads at CIA.
Jennifer Ewbank, Deputy Director for Innovation, CIA
Jennifer Ewbank is the Deputy Director of CIA for Digital Innovation, accountable for accelerating the event and integration of digital and cyber capabilities throughout all of CIA’s mission areas. She additionally focuses on enterprise data, know-how, cyber operations and evaluation, information technique, synthetic intelligence, open supply assortment, and reporting.
The cyber forces and different threats that we confront throughout the digital panorama are formidable and they’re altering the very nature of the intelligence enterprise. They signify an actual hazard to our nationwide and financial safety, however they’re probably not a shock. Six years in the past, the CIA stood up a brand new Directorate of Digital Innovation. That’s the a part of the group that I now have the consideration of main. It was a transfer to revamp the intelligence enterprise to fulfill rising threats within the digital area, and to leverage these new capabilities for operational benefit and analytic insights.
The espionage enterprise, as I see it’s, is commonly regarded as the darkish aspect, however it’s actually in regards to the artwork of the attainable. Success requires creativity, ingenuity, dogged dedication, and a wholesome dose of optimism. It’s a must to imagine that you are able to do issues that – at their core – could appear unimaginable. The Directorate of Digital Innovation (DDI) is charting the course for CIA’s artwork of the attainable within the cyber and digital realm.
In the present day, DDI represents a multidisciplinary fusion of cyber offense, cyber protection, open-source assortment, information science, synthetic intelligence, and enterprise data know-how, all of that are more and more important for the CIA’s success in a world of ubiquitous sensing, cyber threats, and the exponential enhance of knowledge.
Our enduring mission in DDI is to combine CIA’s human, technical, and digital operations at scale, which is a vital attribute to counter our international adversaries on the velocity of mission. To make this occur, we’re charged with elevating the digital acumen of CIA’s workforce to place the company for achievement lengthy into the long run. Nevertheless, DDI tackles none of this alone- it’s all about partnerships inside the company, with companions throughout the nationwide safety neighborhood, and with patriotic People.
I’ll share one thing I discovered coming from the director of operations into this new directorate just a few years in the past: our workforce is tremendously expert, succesful, and extremely agile. They work as built-in groups every day taking over a few of our most daunting intelligence challenges: technologically, operationally, and analytically. We sit on the nexus of technological threats and the information explosion, and I imagine our work turns into solely extra crucial to the company’s success with every passing day.
Personally, it’s an enormous pleasure and an honor to guide the company’s digital workforce. It’s an unbelievable workforce brimming with expertise, creativity, and dedication. Nevertheless, once we speak in regards to the threats and alternatives throughout the digital panorama and their intersection with defensive and offensive operations, I communicate to you as greater than the top of a giant group in Washington. I’ve spent most of my very own intelligence profession abroad operating operations and I’ve seen firsthand what our adversaries are able to, in addition to the ability of integration. It’s a little bit of a buzzword at occasions, however it’s an especially highly effective factor.
I used to be there once we mixed these new areas of digital experience with our conventional strengths in know-how and science, all in partnership with our core human intelligence tradecraft. I’ve been a part of successes, giant and small and have actually seen my share of setbacks alongside the way in which. So, our dialogue at the moment of what’s taking place within the digital panorama, the explosion of knowledge in a highly-connected world of ubiquitous sensing, the onslaught of cyber threats we face from hostile actors, and the way we as a service and as a rustic reply is extra than simply theoretical for me. It’s private.
When the CIA was created in 1947, our principal rivals have been the Soviets and their surrogates throughout Jap Europe. In these early years, the company dueled with the KGB on the streets of Moscow and the Stasi on the streets of Berlin and people sort of gritty and decided first era officers operated underneath extraordinarily difficult circumstances, sparring with their Jap Block foes whereas dodging surveillance and evading checkpoints. Tensions ran very excessive at the moment. In 1956, when the east Germans found a CIA/MI6 tunnel underneath the streets of Berlin, our legendary base chief on the time went down there himself and from behind a machine gun, made certain that no unauthorized individual was going to cross over into the American sector. Clearly now, the one tunneling most base chiefs and station chiefs are doing nowadays are struggling to arrange VPNs on their MacBook, however a few of the most consequential threats we face at the moment are within the digital area.
Lately, we’ve skilled a seismic shift within the contours of that setting and with our mission tasks at CIA turning into progressively extra challenged by these shark infested waters of the data setting, our company has been grappling with handle the explosion in quantity and number of information fueled by technological change. It has remodeled the intelligence enterprise in most of the similar methods it’s remodeled the business market and the worldwide financial system as a complete.
Problem is current for everybody however for these of us within the intelligence enviornment, the stakes are significantly excessive. Our long-time strains proceed with Russia and China has emerged as our most important and daunting problem however past the nice energy competitors, there are many different state and non-state actors alike vying for energy and affect too, and each single certainly one of them is utilizing these new applied sciences to assist their trigger. Within the remaining evaluation, our personal competitiveness as an intelligence service and an intelligence neighborhood will rely on how briskly we flip this evolving digital panorama to our personal benefit relative to our adversaries.
As we all know, international states have leveraged their cyber capabilities to steal data, affect international populations, and menace personal business with bodily and digital infrastructure being favourite targets. We additionally know that information analytics and synthetic intelligence capabilities being developed by digital autocracies to watch and management their very own societies are actually arrows in their very own quiver to focus on us. So, though an rising variety of others are dabbling in cyber, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea stay the core antagonists. Every is on the controls of extremely developed, well-resourced cyber applications pointed like daggers at U.S. pursuits at house and overseas. Becoming a member of this fray as of late are the felony ransomware outfits who’ve monetized hacking and are plotting as we communicate to carry U.S. networks hostage at digital gunpoint simply as they did with the current Colonial Pipeline and JBS assaults.
The Chinese language are clearly formidable gamers within the digital underworld and that’s one thing that had, for just a few years, evaded a lot public discover. Barely concealing its ties to felony hackers, the Chinese language authorities views its competitors with the west as a zero-sum equation the place China’s rise should come on the expense of America’s decline. This has fueled brazen aggression recently as China saturates our networks with disruptive intrusions designed to undermine the safety and competitiveness of our nation. Their systemic industrial degree theft of our private data and mental property is each shameless and unrelenting and a part of a concerted marketing campaign to chip away at our prosperity and diminish our financial would possibly. China presents a prolific and really efficient cyber espionage menace, a rising affect menace, and appreciable, substantial cyber-attack capabilities.
China’s cyber espionage program is especially formidable in two respects: its sheer measurement and its huge ungoverned, contract hacker ecosystem. Beijing additionally sees cyber as a major means for conducting political warfare. An idea that features just about all means in need of battle, to realize its nationwide aims.
One facet of China’s affect marketing campaign that’s significantly noteworthy and displays this theme of scale is the broad array of languages and media used to disseminate Beijing’s messaging. Lately, we’ve seen huge Chinese language spam networks who’ve posted movies on YouTube with a view to affect audiences each within the U.S. and across the globe.
Russia, too, stays a major cyber menace. It has unleashed more and more subtle espionage affect and assault capabilities towards the West and Russian regional rivals. The Russians take into account cyber hacks an appropriate device for deterring adversaries and prosecuting conflicts and so they view cyber espionage as routine enterprise. We noticed this with the current software program provide chain operation towards Photo voltaic Winds the place Russia’s international intelligence service executed a cyber espionage marketing campaign towards the U.S. by inserting malicious code in broadly distributed software program merchandise. This was a brash demonstration of Moscow’s capabilities and proof if anybody wanted it, that private and non-private organizations within the U.S. stay in Moscow’s crosshairs.
Alas, the Russians and the Chinese language are usually not alone. Iran’s technical experience and zeal for aggressive cyber operations additional jeopardize the integrity of the US and our allies’ networks. The Iranian monitor report consists of assaults on crucial infrastructure, that are significantly worrisome as demonstrated by their a number of cyber-attacks final 12 months towards Israeli water services. Iranian hackers just lately focused dozens of U.S. and Israeli protection corporations in accordance with press reviews. So, it’s honest to say that Tehran is accountable for plenty of different nefarious actions on the web, however we’ll go away it there.
North Korea’s cyber program stays troublesome as properly. The notoriously mercurial Pyongyang possible possesses the experience to disrupt crucial infrastructure and enterprise networks in the US judging by their monitor report. North Korean hackers even have lengthy posed a really vital menace to the integrity and stability of the worldwide monetary system and have engaged in a wide range of illicit actions to incorporate cybercrime to generate income for the regime.
Final, however actually not least, are cyber criminals motivated by easy monetary acquire. Their aim is to compromise our private, monetary, and well being information to leverage it on underground black markets. Ransomware is simply the newest incarnation and U.S. shoppers and companies alike stay prone to conventional fraud, extortion, and bank card theft proving that even criminals are leveraging digital innovation. The current look of ransomware as a service has made ransomware accessible on a scale by no means earlier than seen and once we take into account the potential affect of ransomware assaults on crucial infrastructure or authorities networks in the US, the potential affect is admittedly clear.
On the entire, our nationwide and financial safety are put in danger by all of those threats. There’s, nonetheless, a flip aspect to this coin and know-how as at all times is a two-way road. There are home windows of alternative for our group and others within the intelligence neighborhood to strike again and switch the tables on rivals and rivals to achieve the strategic benefit we have to succeed within the twenty first century.
A central pillar of our technique on the Director of Digital Innovation is to outmaneuver adversaries within the digital sphere which requires a wholesale embrace of the ability of innovation. That energy has grow to be the bedrock of our group underpinning a lot of the mission success that we now have been in a position to obtain. Adapting to this type of shifting intelligence panorama has lengthy been encoded within the very DNA of the Central Intelligence Company. For us in DDI, it’s foundational to every thing we do and it’s why we put innovation within the identify of the directorate. In a consistently evolving battle house the place the principles of the highway are rewritten with head spinning velocity, we should embrace threat and we should embrace experimentation as the important thing to innovation and the method of unlocking new insights.
The approaching decade will carry an unprecedented set of nationwide safety challenges that can demand an unprecedented response and to make sure CIA’s readiness for long run success, we made just a few good changes to our priorities relating to China, know-how, our individuals, and partnerships to optimize the company’s means to confront future threats. We do all of this whereas sustaining our give attention to by no means taking our eye off enduring challenges equivalent to counter-terrorism and Russia. Maybe for us, a helpful tenet, comes from a Latin proverb made well-known by the Roman poet Virgil, “Fortune favors the daring.”
Certainly, to prevail towards twenty first century foes whose technical mastery is matched solely by their malicious intent, it’s crucial that we boldly develop new tradecraft, new instruments, new platforms, and different mission options that present decisive operational benefits. Every single day we fail to innovate, fail to take possibilities, or fail to problem ourselves and our typical knowledge, we threat mission failure or worse, irrelevance. Innovation isn’t just the core of our mission; it’s the life blood of American business and any group at the moment enduring to be even modestly profitable on this new digital panorama.
As an instance the purpose: what’s blue and gold, as soon as owned by virtually everybody and at the moment not exists? These of us sufficiently old will do not forget that was a Blockbuster Video Membership Card. The collapse of this one-time empire is a cautionary story for all of us and divulges the destiny of any group that fails to innovate in a hypercompetitive and information pushed digital world. Blockbuster had a fast collapse from the highest of its business to finish irrelevance within the span of simply six years, all as a result of it did not innovate as others aggressively leveraged new know-how and quickly increasing digital infrastructure.
The Blockbuster story displays in some methods the crossroads that we within the espionage enterprise have reached at the moment. Nevertheless, it’s not a alternative between dooming ourselves to Blockbuster’s destiny or following some confirmed route already mapped out by others. It’s about our willingness to be explorers ourselves and to chart a really new course. Groups of cutting-edge designers and engineers at Netflix, Apple, Disney, and Amazon don’t sit round tinkering with their platforms simply to fulfill a buyer’s wants at the moment and modernization will not be the act of upgrading a listing from VHS to DVD.
Success, on this new world, on this digital world, hinges on our means to undertaking necessities and options properly into the long run, to look out past the horizon, to anticipate and gamble on the long run, as unsure as it might be and the identical holds true for the artwork of espionage in a world of dramatically fewer actual secrets and techniques.
Social media, on-line digital information platforms, ubiquitous sensing, business assortment, on land, at sea, within the air, and the web itself imply that we don’t actually lack perception even in far off corners of the globe. The value of gas in Moscow, the circumstances at a port on the coast of Africa, the dimensions of a pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong, it’s all accessible at our fingertips on our cell gadgets whereas secrets and techniques, plans and intentions of despots and terrorists, the issues which have but to occur, are more and more harder to uncover by conventional means.
Success may be unlocked by way of innovation and partnerships. We’re not alone in pursuing the technological options of tomorrow, and sure, being first does matter. Ask these within the Manhattan undertaking, ask NASA, ask Netflix, ask China. They intention to be the primary to guide within the digital world as proven within the Made in China 2025 program and their full dedication to AI dominance by 2030.
The Secret Service has a saying about schedules: should you’re early, you’re on time; should you’re on time, you’re late; should you’re late, simply don’t trouble coming. Equally, we will’t take into consideration catching up with the Chinese language, the Russians, the hackers, hacktivists, or any of the others are on the market making an attempt to do us hurt as a result of for the time being once we’ve caught up, we’re already falling behind once more. The race for decisive benefit on this digital realm will not be about retaining tempo, it’s about outpacing and about beating your competitor to the end line. Innovation and partnership will assist us do this.
Safeguarding the nationwide and financial safety of the US is paramount to all of us. That’s why our group values good partnerships with fellow patriotic innovators within the personal sector. Such partnerships promote larger exchanges of knowledge, extra environment friendly use of assets, and convey a broader vary of experience to downside fixing. Whereas our particular equities could differ, we will every say unequivocally that all of us need the identical factor basically and we’re all on the identical workforce. All of us need to see the US succeed and flourish and stay a world chief, all whereas reflecting the Western democratic beliefs that we maintain so expensive. The personal sector has at all times been America’s engine for innovation and alter and it’s certainly one of our biggest strengths as a nation.
Actually, authorities and business should be companions in innovation, however within the twenty first century, technological innovation is generally going to emerge from the personal sector. Look no additional than the unreal intelligence and machine studying realms the place personal sector innovation helps us harness the ability of knowledge. Greater than any growth on this fourth industrial revolution the place the boundaries between the bodily and digital worlds are blurring, synthetic intelligence holds one of many keys to the way forward for espionage. It’ll assist us handle this information tsunami at machine velocity and can assist release people for the upper order cognitive features which are nonetheless solely attainable with the organic, not a digital mind.
Within the synthetic intelligence enviornment, the intelligence neighborhood should now learn to be a quick follower with business. They must study to not be the first creators of cutting-edge applied sciences predominantly developed by the personal sector. They should be quick followers. That’s why deep and sustainable partnerships with personal business and academia are so very important for the CIA and the intelligence neighborhood as a complete. They permit each side to finest serve America’s pursuits and adapt to those consistently altering waves of latest applied sciences.
The DDI is taking steps to strengthen collaboration inside the business. One main element of our strategy to business partnerships is our creation of innovation hubs. We’re centered on figuring out finest commercially accessible options, particularly within the synthetic intelligence and machine studying areas, and exploring how we will quickly leverage these new options to mission issues. By working in an unclassified and collaborative laboratory house, our innovation hubs can carry new applied sciences to mission extra quickly, allow sooner funding choices about digital applied sciences, and finally scale back the time from concepts to options.
As I’ve stated to our workforce on far too many events to rely, I need us to get out of the U.S. authorities’s enterprise of bringing yesterday’s know-how to you tomorrow. Subsequently, a permanent facet of our mission as CIA’s digital Sherpas, is to remain knowledgeable of latest business applied sciences and place CIA to be that quick follower with business. For this reason in 2017, we opened up CIA’s Silicon Valley Innovation Outpost which facilitates engagement with corporations within the tech sector and lecturers in Silicon Valley. Simply final 12 months, throughout the pandemic, we launched the Northern Virginia Innovation Trade, an area for data sharing and downside fixing the place we work aspect by aspect with companions in business.
Although I hate to confess it, regardless of our greatest efforts, we’re a big authorities group. And so we should handle the impediments that stand in the way in which of bringing new applied sciences quickly into the CIA; we’re engaged on that.
We’re engaged on dashing up our accreditation course of, on the lookout for new acquisition authorities, and doing as a lot as we will within the unclassified house the place we will undertake new concepts and new options at a way more fast tempo. We’re participating business throughout the funding spectrum to leverage their experience and data of the marketplace and to advertise a tradition of steady innovation in a big authorities group that’s not hardwired to do this. By outreach to corporations and by working with Silicon Valley based mostly accelerators, we’re in a position to uncover new applied sciences within the market to fulfill our generally very distinctive mission wants within the CIA. It’s fairly good progress within the first six years for a company, however we’re removed from completed. Innovation is a course of, it’s not an occasion. Nevertheless, there isn’t a end line. The top of any innovation journey simply indicators the start of the following uncharted course. Nobody nowadays is flying kites in lightning storms, however that’s the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that we’re searching for in our ranks. It’s the muse I imagine for our future as an company and it’s a future that the DDI, as a transformative aspect of CIA within the digital age, eagerly embraces.
The challenges forward are formidable, however with a complete of nation strategy encouraging nearer partnerships between authorities and business, we will defend our values towards these adversaries who want us hurt.
As for the DDI, we will speed up the adoption of rising digital applied sciences and combine them with CIA’s conventional strengths in human intelligence and technical intelligence to counter threats to our nation and the shared pursuits of our allies world wide. Just one query stays for my workforce and CIA’s Directorate of Digital Innovation: if fortune certainly favors the daring, simply how daring can they be? I’ve seen this wonderful workforce in motion, and I do know that they are going to carry the struggle to our adversaries throughout the digital panorama.