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Pentagon's cybersecurity plan seeks $23B through 2018

| Monday, June 10, 2013, 7:36 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon cybersecurity budget outline calls for spending almost $23 billion through fiscal 2018, as efforts are expanded on initiatives from protecting computer networks to developing offensive capabilities.

The Defense Department has proposed $4.65 billion for such programs in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, an 18 percent increase from the $3.94 billion budgeted this year. The five-year “cyber expense” budget obtained by Bloomberg News calls for spending to remain elevated from past levels.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this month cited “the growing threat of cyber intrusions, some of which appear to be tied to the Chinese government and military.” His predecessor, Leon Panetta, said last year that “a cyberattack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11.”

The budget outline shows “increased investment will be made in protecting critical infrastructures,” cyber-attack capabilities “for use against our adversaries and enhancing overall security of DoD networks and systems,” Harry Raduege, chairman of Deloitte's Center for Cyber Innovation in Washington, said in a statement.

Increased spending on computer security may benefit Defense contractors, including SAIC and Northrop Grumman, in a time when other Pentagon spending is declining, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government.

The Pentagon plans to request $4.72 billion in fiscal 2015, declining to $4.61 billion in 2016 and $4.45 billion the next year, then rising to $4.53 billion in 2018, according to the budget document.

It calls for requesting $9.3 billion through 2018 for information-assurance systems aimed at blocking hackers and preventing disruptions of information on Pentagon computers, and $8.9 billion for cyberoperations, which include both defensive and offensive capabilities.

Among national security documents disclosed last week, the Britain-based Guardian newspaper reported that President Obama issued a directive in October saying “Offensive Cyber Effects Operations” can provide “unique and unconventional capabilities to advance U.S. national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging.”

Developing and sustaining such offensive capabilities “may require considerable time and effort if access and tools for a specific target do not already exist,” according to the directive. It says the government should identify targets of national importance that “can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk.”

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