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Obama govt proposes 33% hike in cyber-security spending

Good luck getting that through the House, Barry

The outgoing Obama administration has proposed increasing federal cyber-security spending by $5bn, or around a third, in the hope of reaching $19bn in 2017.

Reuters reports that the Democrat president's proposals, due to be unveiled later on Tuesday, will earmark $3.1bn for technology modernisation at various federal agencies.

The proposed spending increases may face a rough passage through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which controls the US federal government’s purse strings.

The proposed cyber-security spending increases follow a high profile (and hugely damaging) hack against the Office of Personnel Management last year, as well as a generally more turbulent threat environment, with Chinese and Russian state sponsored hackers at the fore of attempts to break into and perhaps even disrupt US government systems.

Other nation states – most notably Iran and North Korea – as well as terrorist groups affiliated to Islamic State, and cybercriminals – also pose a hacking or malware infection risk to federal systems as well as businesses.

Similar pressures prompted UK Chancellor George Osborne to announce plans to double cybersecurity spending and establish a single National Cyber Centre back in November. Cybersecurity spending will rise to £1.9bn ($2.87bn) at a time of ongoing austerity measures elsewhere. Part of the spending increase will go towards previously announced plans to hire 1,900 more staff at GCHQ.

Meanwhile the NSA is going through a major reorganisation, combining its attack and defence sides into a single organisation, the Washington Post reported last weekend in a authoritative story citing current and former government officials.

The White House is due to announce the creation of a presidential commission on cyber security later on Tuesday, according to (unnamed) senior administration officials. The commission will make recommendations on how to strengthen US cyber-defences. The current US government cyber defence system, known as Einstein, was judged inadequate in a report by a government watchdog last month.

Related plans also due to be unveiled today will see the creation of a Federal Privacy Council, with a mandate to develop comprehensive guidelines on the use of personal data, Reuters adds.

The Obama's administrations new Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) can be found here.

The NSA plans to merge the signals intelligence (offence) and assurance (defence) into a new operations directorate. Combining offensive and defensive efforts is pitched as a means to bolster "collaboration and integration". However independent security experts have already expressed concerns about culture clashes between the two historically separate divisions, which have very different perspectives on the world. ®

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