Investing in Ultra-Secure U.S. Government Networks is an Investment in a Brighter Future


MARCH 2020

By: Chris Swan

While Washington, DC can appear to be in a state of chaos and uncertainty, especially during an election year, it is clear that the professionals across many government agencies that keep the country running understand the growing risks of cyber-attacks on the mission critical networks taxpayers fund.

The current administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 calls for spending $18.8 billion on cybersecurity programs across the federal government, with approximately $9 billion dedicated to civilian agencies for network security, protecting critical infrastructure, boosting the cybersecurity workforce and other priorities.

The Department of Homeland Security alone has a $2.6 billion budget recommendation, which includes $1.1 billion for DHS and their Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to defend government networks and critical infrastructure. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the funding would increase the number of DHS-led network risk assessments from 1,800 to 6,500 and allow for more state and local governments to utilize the department’s services.

The GAO has also weighed in with a report last week indicating that not all agencies and sectors have embraced NIST guidelines, noting that great progress has been made in certain areas. With more resources, not only can networks, clouds, data centers and other “connected” assets store and share data more securely and efficiently, but audits on progress can also be performed to ensure the country is increasingly able to defend against attacks.

The budget also addresses a huge challenge we are facing today, in both private and public sectors, and that is the availability of trained, skilled and experienced cyber security professionals. The DHS’ Cyber Talent Management System, a personnel system designed to bring hundreds of new cybersecurity professionals into the federal workforce under special hiring rules, in addition to a CISA-managed cybersecurity workforce initiative and interagency rotational program so professionals can be exposed to a range of use cases and applications – both programs should have a significant impact in recruiting and developing our country’s critical cyber resources.

The protection of the energy grid is also high on the list for recommended investments, with a $665 million recommended budget, including $185 million for the Office of Cybersecurity. The Department of Energy would get $665 million for cybersecurity, including $185 million for the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency (CESR).

The administration sees this as an economic driver as well, saying in the report “The private sector has the primary role in taking risks to finance the deployment of commercially viable projects and Government’s best use of taxpayer funding is in earlier stage R&D,” and accordingly many of the funds will go towards grants and other public-private collaborations.

As the threats on America continue to shift and evolve, adversaries spend billions on sophisticated ways to hack into and manipulate critical systems and steal sensitive data. Ensuring our country is ready to fight new “digital wars” is of the utmost importance. While supporting our troops and maintaining the appropriate assets and weapons to defend against traditional attacks is always important, we have seen and should expect to see more and more actions taken by adversarial nation-states, including China, Iran, North Korea and Russia.

More than ever, adversaries use modern technology and training to harm U.S. businesses, attempt to undermine our military and tamper with our democratic freedoms, putting the future of our country on the line.

With an estimated 75 billion devices connected to the public Internet by 2025, it is clear vulnerabilities are increasing, and to combat sophisticated future threats, the administration is also calling for investment in artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, IoT, electric vehicles, smart cities, transportation systems and more.

The great unifying principle across all these challenges and opportunities is networking and building on the adaptation of the Internet (which governments have been funding for over 50 years) and to leverage of the largest and most resilient network in the world to transmit data.

We can now very securely do that today – not in the future – by using software and session management techniques like those Dispersive has developed working with government agencies – to protect what we connect, but in an economically feasible and responsible way taxpayers will appreciate. You can learn more about our solutions and success in Government here.

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