Incident Response, TDR

Obama proposes $800m cyber budget increase for Pentagon

Despite proposed cuts to defense spending for next fiscal year, the Pentagon will devote more funding to cyber security initiatives – to the tune of an $800 million increase. 

President Obama proposed a $3.8 trillion federal budget (PDF) for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) would be allocated $4.7 billion for cyber security initiatives, up from $3.9 billion last year. But the overall defense spending plan is $526.6 billion, a $3.9 billion cut from 2013.

Proposed Wednesday, the 2014 budget will be discussed with Congress before being enacted.

Part of the additional funding would help develop “cyber expert” teams, who will carry out both offensive and defensive operations. In January, the DoD announced plans to grow its Cyber Command nearly fivefold over the next few years.

“Cyber investments will grow in response to emerging threats in cyber space,” according to budget. “Teams of cyber experts – including defensive, intelligence, and analytical – will defend the nation, as well as DoD infrastructure, by conducting reconnaissance, surveillance, development, maintenance, and analysis.”

Funding will also go toward the creation a cyber security information system to help the government “connect the dots in identifying cyber security threats.” The system would allow for automated information sharing across the federal agencies.

The increased allotment was justified as a means to thwart adversaries' ongoing attempts to “perpetrate malicious and disruptive activity” or “steal commercial or government secrets and property” in the United States.  

Recent allegations that the Chinese government has conducted cyber spying against American businesses, as detailed in a February report by security firm Mandiant, have hastened calls for legislation such as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and likely influenced increased government funding for cyber security. CISPA, a contentious information-sharing bill, was approved Wednesday by the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and is now set for a full House vote.

On Friday, Alex Lanstein, a network and systems architect at security firm FireEye, told that strengthening federal cyber security efforts is necessary in a world of growing advanced threats.

“I think that the administration recognizes that cyber offensive and defensive programs have a pretty big shortage in tools as well as the skilled humans needed to form analysis [of threats],” Lanstein said.

He added that long-term campaigns to steal or sabotage data at U.S. companies and agencies have steadily increased in recent years.

“It takes so little to develop an exploit or carry out a payload, and countries have seen [this],” Lanstein said.

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