WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 09:  US President Barack Obama speaks to the media during a meeting with members of his national security team and cybersecurity advisors in the Roosevelt Room at the White House February 9, 2016 in Washington, DC. Also pictured is US Vice President Joe Biden.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Obama’s $19B Cybersecurity Budget to Address Talent Gap, Outdated Tech

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US President Barack Obama has proposed a $19 billion budget for US government cybersecurity for the 2017 fiscal year, an increase of over one-third, according to an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal. The $5 billion increase would include $3.1 billion to modernize the technology of federal agencies, if approved by the Republican-controlled Congress.

Noting recent attacks, including the breach of the Office of Personnel Management announced in June, Obama said in the Journal editorial that “cyberthreats are among the most urgent dangers to America’s economic and national security,” and that 9 out of 10 Americans “feel like they’ve lost control of their personal information.”

The presidential proposal includes $62 million to attract and retain qualified staff, senior administration staff told Reuters. In order to “recruit the best talent from Silicon Valley and across the private sector” the government will offer scholarships, forgiving student loans, and allow federal cybersecurity professionals to wear jeans to work.

Read more: Advocacy Group Calls on US Government to Improve FedRAMP for Cloud Service Providers

“It is no secret that too often government IT is like an Atari game in an Xbox world,” Obama said. “The Social Security Administration uses systems and code from the 1960s. No successful business could operate this way. Going forward, we will require agencies to increase protections for their most valued information and make it easier for them to update their networks. And we’re creating a new federal position, Chief Information Security Officer—a position most major companies have already adopted—to drive these changes across government.”

The federal government also opened a National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence on Monday, and will open a cyber attack simulation lab as part of a push to strengthen public private partnership on digital security. The Small Business Admnistration is offering 1.4 million small businesses cybersecurity training, and the federal government will launch an awareness campaign for consumers, according to Obama’s plan. The US government will also a bipartisan Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.

Read more: US Government Spends $9B on Software Yearly and Wants to Change That

A study published a year ago by SolarWinds found that careless and untrained insiders are the biggest threat to cybersecurity at federal agencies. In June, the US government announced that all federal sites will use HTTPS by the end of this calendar year.

Amazon announced plans in November to open a Virginia data center to take advantage of increasing federal government cloud use.


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