Homeland Security Seeks Cybersecurity Funding

The agency has requested more than $1 billion for technology-related activities in its fiscal 2012 budget, a slight increase from last year.

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters

Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters

(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: Inside DHS' Classified Cyber-Coordination Headquarters

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has asked for funding to support its pact with the National Security Agency (NSA) to align efforts on cybersecurity as part of its fiscal 2012 budget request.

Included in its $57 billion budget for 2012, the DHS has asked for $1.3 million to help the DHS and NSA collaborate on matters of cybersecurity "to protect against threats to critical civilian and military computer systems and networks."

The funds will support an effort unveiled last October to formalize how the agencies collaborate on cybersecurity. Prior to the pact, federal agencies working on cybersecurity had coordinated efforts in a nebulous way, a scenario that drew criticism from the Government Accountability Office, the federal watchdog agency.

Overall the agency has requested more than $1 billion in funding for a range of technology-related activities in its 2012 budget, a slight increase from about a $900 million investment in technology last year. The DHS' budget request for 2012 overall also represents a slight bump up from its request of $56.3 million in 2011.

The DHS outlined six missions in its budget, one of which is the “safeguarding and security of cyberspace,” which represents only a fraction of its technology investment.

The budget request to collaborate with the NSA falls under that objective, as does an $18 million increase in funds for the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and a $233.6 million request to expedite the deployment of EINSTEIN 3, an intrusion detection and prevention system developed by the NSA that’s been in testing for nearly a year.

Other requested cybersecurity funds include $40.9 million to conduct 66 network assessments to improve security across federal executive branch agencies and $24.5 million to provide more cybersecurity education and training to improve the skills of its workforce.

Investments in technology that caused controversy for the agency last year are also part of its 2012 budget request. The DHS is asking for $105.2 million to purchase and install 275 more advanced imaging technology (AIT) scanning machines that are now being deployed at airport security checkpoints. Currently, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) uses 1,000 of the machines, which have spurred debate over travelers' privacy rights, at airports in the U.S.

The agency also wants $242 million to deploy more surveillance equipment across the "highest trafficked areas" of the U.S. border with Mexico, according to the budget request. Last year, the agency scrapped a controversial, problem-plagued "virtual" border fence project called SBInet that was to be deployed in the region to safeguard the border.

The funds this year are aimed at procuring equipment similar to what was to be used in SBInet -- such as high-tech patrol towers and mobile surveillance equipment -- but on a smaller scale, according to the budget request.

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About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Montalbano, Contributing Writer

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer, journalist, and therapeutic writing mentor with more than 25 years of professional experience. Her areas of expertise include technology, business, and culture. Elizabeth previously lived and worked as a full-time journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco, and New York City; she currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal. In her free time, she enjoys surfing, hiking with her dogs, traveling, playing music, yoga, and cooking.

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