White House raises stature of Cyber Command within the military, giving it more autonomy. The next move could be splitting it off from the NSA altogether.
The White House has approved a plan to turn the US Cyber Command into its own military command.
Cyber Command will be elevated to the status of "Unified Combatant Command," President Donald Trump said in a statement Friday. This puts it on par with the nine other unified commands of the military, like Central Command, and increases its stature and independence as it handles cyberspace operations.
Trump said the move, part of a long-delayed Pentagon plan, strengthens and streamlines operations "by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of such operations."
The change comes at a time of heightened anxiety about the online defenses of government agencies, businesses and consumers generally. And it's not the first such action that Trump has taken: In May, he signed an executive order calling for an overhaul on cybersecurity for federal networks, critical infrastructure and the public online. Meanwhile, the world has received a wakeup call from not one, but two massive ransomware attacks, and in the US investigators continue to dig into Russian influence on the 2016 election via hacked emails.
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment as to who might lead the command.
In addition, Secretary of Defense James Mattis is looking into separating Cyber Command from the more intelligence-focused National Security Agency, under which it is currently housed. Mattis will make a recommendation later on.
"The elevation of United States Cyber Command demonstrates our increased resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure our allies and partners and deter our adversaries," Trump said.