On Friday, President Donald Trump directed that the United States Cyber Command be elevated to the status of a Unified Combatant Command focused on cyberspace operations, according to a statement issued by the White House Press Office. The decision puts the Cyber Command on equal footing with nine other combat commands.
The change is focused on increased threats in cyberspace and is part of an effort to reassure allies while deterring adversaries, according to the statement.
The new Unified Combatant Command will strengthen cyberspace operations and ensure funding. It also streamlines command, particularly in cyber operations that are more time sensitive.
The move has been discussed since the Obama administration, with some people pushing to separate the Cyber Command from the National Security Agency because they believe the two groups’ mission are at odds.
While Trump stopped short of separating the two groups, he indicated it would be a possibility and further examined by Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
The change emphasizes growing concerns about major cyberattacks by nation state actors that can affect businesses and government agencies alike. Attacks like the worldwide Nyetya malware attack demonstrate how powerful cybercriminals have become.
Elevating the Unified Combatant Command gives the government more power to deal with nation states that take aim at the U.S. For businesses still struggling with cyber protection, the news comes as a good sign that the government will have their back should another major cyberattack by a foreign government occur. Last week, shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said the Nyetya attack that hit the company in June cost it as much as $300 million in lost revenue.