Obama spends more on cyber defense

US president Barack Obama has promised to increase spending to protect US computer networks from internet based attacks.

This is despite making a lot of cutbacks in other areas of the budget and indicates that a nuclear arms race has been replaced by one which uses software instead of nukes.

Obama’s budget proposal for the 2014 fiscal year, which begins 1 October, calls for more military “hackers” to head off escalating cyber threats from China, Iran, Russia and other countries.

According to Reuters, there will be extra cash to bolster defences for government and private-sector computer networks.

The announcement follows calls from intelligence officials who claimed that cyber attacks and espionage have supplanted terrorism as the top security threat facing the United States.

Air Force general Robert Kehler told space and cyber industry executives at a conference in Colorado that it was time the US locked its doors because someone from halfway around the world is trying to get into its networks.

The Pentagon said the spending would beef up US defenses against increasing cyber attacks, as well as boosting its offensive capabilities.

Obama’s budget proposes to boost Defense Department spending on cyber efforts to $4.7 billion which is $800 million more than current levels. The rest of the Pentagon’s overall spending budget has been cut by $3.9 billion.

The Pentagon wants to expand its Cyber Command which is a team of military hackers conducting what it calls “reconnaissance, surveillance, development, maintenance and analysis”. The Pentagon also said it would expand efforts to protect its own computer networks.

The Department of Homeland Security would spend $44 million more on a government-wide information-sharing effort even though its overall budget will shrink by $615 million, or 1.5 percent.

Some of this cash will fund more cybersecurity research and help private businesses and local governments to bolster their online defences.