The CIA will create a special division to conduct cyberespionage.
Along with crunching data to help identify and approach new spies to recruit, the CIA hopes to improve its ability to trace the "digital dust" that potential targets leave during activities such as using an ATM card, renting a car or moving through a city with a cellphone, said the Los Angeles Times.
Rival spy agencies use those digital fingerprints to help track CIA operatives, and the agency wants to find techniques to help officers working undercover hide their tracks online, said the LA Times.
"The digital world touches every aspect of our business," said CIA Director John O. Brennan. He acknowledged that the agency had been slow to adapt to the challenge.
The new CIA division will be called the Directorate of Digital Innovation. It will have the same level of authority as the four long-standing directorates responsible for clandestine operations, analysis, spy gadgetry and logistical support. "We must place our activities and operations in the digital domain at the very center of all our mission endeavors," Brennan said.
As part of the reorganization, the agency also will create 10 regional and issue-focused mission centers that will attempt to break down the traditional walls between the directorates, especially the operators who steal secrets and recruit agents and the analysts who pore over data and brief policymakers and the president.
Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, praised Brennan's moves, reported Reuters. "This reorganization was driven not by any institutional failure, but by the realization that the world has changed over the course of the last 70 years. In many ways, the director’s proposal is long overdue," Burr said in a statement.