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Pentagon boosts spending to fight cyber attacks

/ 01:48 PM February 26, 2016
Ash Carter

Defense Secretary Ash Carter testifies before the House Appropriations subcommittee on the president’s 2017 budget during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. The U.S. military has launched a newly aggressive campaign of cyberattacks against Islamic State militants, targeting the group’s abilities to use social media and the Internet to recruit fighters and inspire followers, U.S. officials told The Associated Press. The surge of computer-based military operations by U.S. Cyber Command began shortly after Carter prodded commanders at Fort Meade, Maryland, last month to ramp up the fight against the Islamic State group on the cyber front. AP Photo

WASHINGTON, United States—The Pentagon plans to spend an additional $900 million in the coming year to boost cyber defense measures, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Thursday.

US officials are still reeling from last year’s revelation that personal data from some 20 million federal employees, contractors and others had been hacked in a massive breach at the Office of Personnel Management.

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The military worries about being targeted by an array of hackers, including national adversaries such as North Korea and non-sovereign players like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.

“Given the increasing severity and sophistication of the threats and challenges we’re seeing in cyberspace—ranging from (ISIS’s) pervasive online presence to the data breaches at the Office of Personnel Management—the budget puts a priority on funding our cyber strategy,” Carter said in a written statement to the House Appropriations Committee.

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The Pentagon will spend a total of $6.7 billion in the 2017 budget—up 15.5 percent from the previous year. In all, the Pentagon is projected to spend $34.6 billion over the coming five years.

Carter said the spending reflected the Pentagon’s commitment to deterring “even the most advanced adversaries” and noted that the budget also invests in cyber warfare capabilities, including building potential cyber “military response options.”

The risk of cyber attacks is noted as significant in the latest intelligence reports, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers on Thursday.

“Devices, designed and fielded with minimal security requirements and testing, and an ever-increasing complexity of networks, could lead to widespread vulnerabilities in civilian infrastructures and US government systems,” Clapper told the US House Intelligence Committee.

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TOPICS: Budget, cyber, intelligence, Military, US
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