The US government is getting back into cyberspace by introducing a new cybersecurity program.
Under the Cybersecurity Enhancement and Capacity Building for Strategic Communications program, the US will spend $500 million on internet and television service providers to develop a system for managing data breaches, including one that could allow hackers to take control of internet traffic and potentially access sensitive data.
The Cybersecurity Extension Program (CEBP), unveiled on Monday, aims to provide the military with the tools and expertise to fight online threats and “cybercrime,” a concept that originated with the US military and has become a hot-button issue for civil liberties advocates.
The US has been increasingly turning to cybersecurity in the wake of the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, the hack on the Democratic National Committee and the breach of Sony Pictures, which left more than 130 million users of the company’s Playstation Network account vulnerable to cyberattacks.
But it’s unclear what the military might do if a cyberattack was carried out by a foreign government, said David A. Clarke, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author of a book on cyberwarfare called The Cybersecurity Handbook.
For now, the military is focusing on defending against cyberattacks by the US and its allies.
It plans to spend about $100 million on cyberattacks over the next two years, including $100,000 to hire about 2,000 additional cybersecurity professionals, according to the Pentagon.
It has a $500 billion cybersecurity budget for 2020, but the program does not specify how it will be spent.
The $500m is a fraction of the $5 trillion in annual defense spending the Pentagon wants to spend.
In the meantime, the government has turned to private sector companies to develop its cybersecurity strategy, a move that is likely to spark more cybersecurity legislation and more private sector involvement.
“It’s going to be a little bit of a surprise to a lot of folks who have been saying the private sector is the way forward,” Clarke said.
The program is one of several steps the Pentagon is taking to strengthen its defenses against cyberattack.
It also includes plans to deploy a fleet of advanced stealth drones to the United States and a drone fleet to the UK.