Federal Cybersecurity is vital. Why? That’s because Federal networks are attractive targets. Especially for foreign intelligence and other malicious actors in cyberspace.
The level of threat faced by federal government networks has few parallels. And sadly, agencies have been unable to keep up.
The Federal Cybersecurity Landscape
Every year, the federal government spends tens of billions of dollars. Just for IT and cybersecurity alone.
Understanding the exact spending trends can be difficult. However, the Office of Management and Budget, summarizes IT spending trends as $82.8 billion in FY2016, $78.4 billion in FY2017. Also, it is $81.3 billion in FY2018 and $83.4 billion in FY2019 respectively.
Additionally, cybersecurity expenditures support a large and diverse federal government. Moreover, cybersecurity at regulatory agencies is coming into the spotlight. After reports of compromises at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As well as in the Securities Exchange Commission.
It’s because regulators tend to fiercely protect their independence. Especially from political executive branch agencies. That’s because their missions are meant to be apolitical and independent.
The Major Federal Cybersecurity Initiatives
The federal government drove a series of initiatives. This is to improve cybersecurity at federal agencies.
It was launched by the federal CIO in June 2015. Following the OPM intrusion. This initiative addresses the quick and dramatic progress in the key areas. It demonstrates also that the federal government can close key gaps in cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity Strategy And Implementation Plan (CISP)
It was released in October 2015 as an output of the Cyber Sprint. This initiative set forward a further series of short term actions. To improve federal cybersecurity as well.
Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP)
It was a broad-based initiative released in February 2016. This initiative includes many of the efforts begun during the Sprint and CSIP.
As part of the CNAP, president Obama signed an executive order. This order establishes a bipartisan Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity to make detailed recommendations. Primarily to strengthen cybersecurity, including cybersecurity in the federal government.
Modernizing Information Technology
The federal government relies on legacy IT systems. And these are difficult to secure and expensive to maintain.
In May 2016, the GAO reports that such investments were becoming obsolete. And it still uses outdated programming languages. Also, it has old parts and unsupported hardware and software.
Meaning, a large and increasing proportion of the federal IT budget is spent. But it just keeps the old system running.
Both Obama and Trump Administrations acknowledged these challenges. So, they Set out strategies for IT modernization.
Then, the federal CIO issued a draft report to the President about IT Modernization. The report outlines actions to consolidate and modernize networks. It also proposes to adopt shared services.
Thus, enabling future network architectures. And also realign resources for prioritizing modernization.
These plans will not succeed without people, technology, as well as leadership. So, the federal government must focus on enhancing the Federal Cyber Workforce.
It must also build a foundation through research and development. And they should promote leadership, accountability, and a culture of cybersecurity.
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