Obama asks for $14 billion to step up cybersecurity

The president urges Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen the country's hacking detection system and counterintelligence capabilities.

President Obama talked about cybersecurity reform during the State of the Union last month, but has now offered more details. Rob Carr/Getty Images

Following through on his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama has added $14 billion to the 2016 budget proposal to beef up cybersecurity in the US, according to Reuters. If approved by Congress, this money would be used to better protect government and private computer systems from hackers.

While the president was light on details during the State of the Union, he's now outlined his goals for cybersecurity reform in his Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. These goals include increasing information sharing between private companies and the government, enhancing counterintelligence capabilities and expanding cyber-education in the federal government.

The cybersecurity funding listed in the fiscal 2016 budget (PDF) would go toward specific programs and projects, like the Einstein intrusion detection system, federal computer network monitoring and six cyberops centers for carrying out US cyberactivities. The fiscal year begins October 1.

"This budget provides the resources we need to defend the nation against cyberattacks," Obama wrote in the 2016 proposed budget, which was released Monday. "No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families."

The focus on cybersecurity is apt : The US government and private companies fell victim to waves of hacking sprees in 2015. Retailers and banks, like Target, Home Depot and JPMorgan, experienced security breaches and credit card theft; and a cyberattack on Sony Pictures, which the US blamed on North Korea, led to a contentious face-off between the two countries.

It's unclear if the Republican-controlled Congress will approve the funding for Obama's proposed measures, however. Cybersecurity legislation that was proposed in the past has been stalled in Congress for years.

"In addition to increasing funding to protect our nation against cyberattacks," Obama wrote in the 2016 budget, "I continue to urge the Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to meet this evolving threat."

The Electronic Transactions Association, which is a trade group that represents more than 500 payments and technology companies, said it supports Obama's cybersecurity legislative proposal and is also encouraging Congress to approve it.

"The president's legislative proposal will reduce the number and severity of cyberattacks by allowing the industry access to actionable information about cybercriminals' plans," association CEO Jason Oxman said in an emailed statement. "Increased information sharing about cyberthreats serves as an early warning system, thereby allowing the payments industry to further strengthen its defenses against specific cyberattacks."

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