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US to establish new cybersecurity agency: Official

The United States government is creating a new agency to monitor cybersecurity threats, pooling and analyzing information on a spectrum of diffuse risks, a senior Obama administration official said on Tuesday.

The Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center (CTIIC) will be an "intelligence center that will 'connect the dots' between various cyber threats to the nation so that relevant departments and agencies are aware of these threats in as close to real time as possible," the official said on condition of anonymity.

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Obama has moved cybersecurity to the top of his 2015 agenda after recent hacking attacks against Sony Pictures, Home Depot and Target and the federal government itself. The Democratic president sees it as an area where cooperation is possible with the Republican-led Congress.

The CTIIC will aim for "seamless intelligence flows among centers, including those responsible for sharing with the private sector," the official said in an email.

The center will be formally announced in an address on Tuesday by the White House counterterrorism coordinator, Lisa Monaco.

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The Obama administration likened the new agency to the National Counterterrorism Center established after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by al Qaeda following criticism that the various U.S. intelligence agencies were not communicating well.

It will have a similar broad focus of providing "integrated, all-source analysis" of threats, the official said.

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"No existing agency has the responsibility for performing these functions, so we need these gaps to be filled to help the federal government meet its responsibilities in cybersecurity," the official said.

Congress has tried for years to pass legislation to encourage companies to share data from cyberattacks with the government and each other. Liability issues raised by companies and privacy concerns of civil liberties groups contributed to the failure to implement such laws.

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Obama's proposed legislation tries to balance security needs with concerns by offering liability protection to companies that provide information in near real-time to the government, while requiring them to strip it of personal data.

The Washington Post first reported the creation of the agency.