Redmond View

Obama Aims High on Cybersecurity Budget

An increased spending budget for federal cybersecurity aims to plug infrastructure holes.

When President Barack Obama early this month proposed $19 billion in cybersecurity spending for the federal government in the coming fiscal year Oct. 1, he made fixing the gaping holes in the nation's critical infrastructure a key priority for his final 10 months in office. The formidable 35 percent increase in cybersecurity spending calls for the formation of a National Action Plan that would include $3 billion to overhaul federal computer systems.

The president pointed to antiquated systems such as those run by the Social Security Administration that run code written in the 1960s. "It is no secret that too often government IT is like an Atari game in an Xbox world," Obama wrote in an Op-Ed column in The Wall Street Journal last month. "No successful business could operate this way."

The National Action Plan also calls for the creation of a chief information security officer. Ironically, the president's request for such a vast increase came a few days after a hacker released personal data from 20,000 Department of Justice employees and 9,000 Department of Homeland Security workers, not to forget the 20 million personnel records stolen last year from the Office of Budget and Management.

Attacks from individuals and organized groups are growing in sophistication and continue to outpace efforts to mitigate them. More than one-third of the budget request, $7 billion, would go toward defending the Department of Defense's infrastructure.

Republicans in Congress have already signaled reluctance to approve major new spending initiatives -- meaning it's likely DOA. Hopefully both sides can find common ground and not leave the shoring up of the nation's cyber-defenses in limbo.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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