The House approved a short-term federal spending bill on Tuesday to allow time for the expected passage of a fiscal 2014 spending package that includes $447 million for the Pentagon component that launches cyber weapons and deflects hacks against civilian and military networks. That’s more than a two-fold increase over Cyber Command’s fiscal 2013 budget of $191 million. The Senate was expected to clear the bill shortly.
The funding jump is mostly attributed to the growth of cyber mission forces, Pentagon officials told Nextgov on Tuesday. In March 2013, about 834 active duty military and civilian personnel were on staff, Cyber Command chief Gen. Keith Alexander told lawmakers at the time. The goal is to grow cyber forces by 2,000 personnel annually, until 2016.
The boundary where the military takes over network defense from the Homeland Security Department is unclear, since cyberspace is not demarcated by geographic lines. For example, Cyber Command is bulking up “national mission forces” that will thwart incoming digital threats to American power, healthcare and other critical infrastructure sectors. Homeland Security is responsible for “leading a coordinated national response to significant cyber incidents,” a DHS spokesman said last year.
House lawmakers on Wednesday were poised to approve $792 million for cybersecurity at the Homeland Security Department in fiscal 2014. That is an increase of $35.5 million over last year.
DHS and Defense workforces are straining to protect Americans from disruptive hacks and cyberspying, government officials say.
The number of cyber incidents agencies and all other sectors reported to DHS increased by 42 percent between fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012, to a total of 153,043 cases, according to the most recent assessment of the government’s compliance with federal cyber legislation, released last spring.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the House had passed the full fiscal 2014 cybersecurity funding measure Monday. The chamber passed stop-gap legislation and approved the full spending bill on Wednesday.