September 29, 2023

The Biden administration’s nominee to guide U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA provided his first public insights on controversial surveillance applications, encryption and different scorching button cybersecurity points.

Air Pressure Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, testifying alongside the White Home’s choose to helm federal counterintelligence efforts, breezed by way of his inaugural affirmation listening to earlier than the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday. He must seem once more earlier than the Senate Armed Providers Committee, which shares jurisdiction over Haugh’s nomination, someday this month.

The primary session centered largely on how Haugh would lead NSA, the world’s largest intelligence company. Listed below are the highlights from the double-feature:


Senators on each side of the aisle repeatedly ask Haugh for his opinion on an expiring surveillance regulation the administration is campaigning to resume. The regulation, Part 702 of the International Intelligence Surveillance Act, protects the U.S. from foreign-based cyberattacks and yields intelligence to deal with an array of nationwide safety threats.

“In my expertise it’s completely important,” Haugh mentioned. “It’s extensively used and it’s an irreplaceable authority for the intelligence group.”

He later added that 100% of the objects within the president’s every day transient — a high-level assortment of study supplied to the commander-in-chief on a regular basis — which have enter from alerts intelligence possess 702 “reflections” in them.

Nonetheless, the present Cyber Command deputy chief requested to come back again to the panel to debate the precise processes for a way the company adheres to the regulation and safeguards private privateness of Americans.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) famous that in his pre-hearing solutions to the panel Haugh “largely deferred” to present management and claimed “restricted familiarity” with the compliance regime.

“I’ve to say, I do not view that reply as ok. I am upset,” Heinrich mentioned.

“I completely agree with you that that is the precedence challenge when it comes to having the ability to perceive to a granular stage of element how that is carried out. If confirmed, that is my first precedence, to have the ability to perceive that,” Haugh mentioned.


Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), one of many chamber’s chief privateness hawks, pressed Haugh to vow that the digital spying company wouldn’t search to insert backdoors into units or software program or in any other case search to weaken encryption know-how.

Encryption is “important to defend our nationwide safety methods and our weapon methods,” Haugh mentioned. “If confirmed, we won’t weaken encryption for Individuals.”

Wyden replied: “That is an necessary assertion. So in your watch, encryption goes to be preserved?”

“Sure, senator.”


Russia has “actually used various cyber capabilities in opposition to Ukraine” since Moscow’s invasion final yr, in accordance with Haugh.

Policymakers have lengthy puzzled concerning the absence of huge Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine they believed would accompany any navy invasion by Moscow.

Haugh mentioned Kyiv “will get nice credit score” for partnering with the U.S. private and non-private sector and different NATO allies to make its networks extra resilient in opposition to digital assaults.

These “proceed right this moment. And we’d count on that Russia will proceed to make use of each cyber functionality that they’ve as a part of their illegal battle and wherever we will present help, we should always proceed to try this.”

Sen. Angus King (I-ME) speculated the Russians “have been afraid of Paul Nakasone,” the present head of Cyber Command and NSA, who pushed the idea of “Defend Ahead” to counter adversary habits as near the supply as attainable.

“We have to have interaction our adversaries in the event that they’re conducting actions which might be malign and have a unfavourable affect, unfavourable influence on the nationwide safety of the USA or unfavourable influence on our allies and companions,” Haugh mentioned.

Twin hat

Haugh demurred at the concept that he would want new authorities if confirmed to take the reins of each companies. An interagency assessment by the Biden administration of a Trump-era directive, dubbed Nationwide Safety Presidential Memoranda 13, outlined Pentagon authorities to conduct time-sensitive navy operations in our on-line world.

“In my expertise, there’s actually good alignment between the regulation and what has been produced by the Congress by our nationwide coverage and by the authorities which were given to U.S. Cyber Command the Nationwide Safety Company,” he instructed lawmakers.

That then “permits complimentary motion.”


The NSA has been no stranger to main safety breaches, going again to the secrets and techniques shared by former company contractor Edward Snowden a decade in the past.

Haugh promised to “assessment all of our present processes and be certain that, from a Nationwide Safety Company perspective, we’re doing all the pieces we will” to stop such incidents.

The spy company additionally will “associate with the remainder of the nationwide safety group and the intelligence group to make sure that we’re sharing what we consider are finest practices.”

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Martin Matishak

Martin Matishak is a senior cybersecurity reporter for The Report. He spent the final 5 years at Politico, the place he coated Congress, the Pentagon and the U.S. intelligence group and was a driving drive behind the publication’s cybersecurity e-newsletter.