A recent article in Politico warned that cybersecurity could be a casualty of a sequester ax. The problem is that without a change in course, the federal budget is headed for a uniform across the board reduction and that would include the multiple programs that carry out our nation’s responsibilities for protecting federal networks, staving off foreign cyber attacks and researching new technologies. As Politico put it: “Many of those initiatives would be hit hard by deep cuts beginning in 2013 unless Congress pushes back the target date for its legally mandated cuts, exempts some categories of spending or does away entirely with its fallback, deficit-reduction plans.”
And then the news hit that the White House itself had been the target of a cyber attack. Fortunately, this time, no classified systems were compromised and no data was extracted. This time.
It is not often that events illustrate so vividly the risks to the nation in continuing an unacceptable compromise policy. No one really wants a sequester, and no one really wants the consequences that would flow from one. Policymakers need to do what it takes to avoid it.
But failing that, the Administration should find a way to prioritize cyber security spending. Congress did not agree on all aspects of the stalled cybersecurity legislation, but they did agree that more Federal funding for cyber security programs and research was an urgent national priority. Sequester planning should maintain that priority.
Mark MacCarthy, Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology. Follow the SIIA Public Policy team on Twitter at @SIIAPolicy