In the 1940s, U.S. and British physicists working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory shared technical secrets about America’s atomic energy program with Soviet spies operating in the United States. The greatest secret of World War II was now in the hands of Soviet premier Joseph Stalin. The pilfered data accelerated Moscow’s atomic program by years, and when the Soviets tested their first atomic device in 1949 – a replica of the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, four years earlier – it sparked a nuclear arms race that would shape global relations and tensions for the next half-century.
The challenges we face from our global adversaries and competitors are far more sophisticated today than during the Cold War when an agent of a foreign power could pocket a schematic and walk it out of a secure facility. Threats to our national and economic security are increasingly aggressive and complex, and come from foreign intelligence services and non-state actors. The digital revolution, propelled by technologies evolving at a breakneck pace, has exponentially increased the breadth and depth of these threats. It is no longer a case of organizations responsible for countering those threats simply keeping pace with our adversaries. We must outpace them, by developing groundbreaking strategies and security policies for countering their methods and means, and creating innovative mission solutions.
2021: Year in Review documents the extraordinary efforts of NCSC to counter these evolving threats and safeguard our most sensitive information and assets. We are far from alone in this endeavor, and have teamed up with national and global partners from across the public and private sectors to pool our respective expertise, resources, methodologies, and best practices. Foremost among our shared goals are advancing security clearance reform initiatives; mitigating threats to the supply chain; improving detection of trusted insiders wishing to do harm; countering foreign technical threats; and arming our personnel with the tools and knowledge they need to strengthen the protection of our secrets, data, and technological innovations.
The stakes are high, but NCSC is in the game. And we’re all in.