The Federal Information Security Amendments Act of 2012, one of four cybersecurity bills on the docket in the House this week, would overhaul the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) by requiring agencies to continuously monitor their computer systems for security threats, and setting other new cyber responsibilities for federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget.
According to the report, much of the new spending would stem from "salaries, expenses, and computer hardware and software." These costs would increase each year, according to the report. However, despite belt tightening across the federal government, cybersecurity is one area where President Obama and Congress have been relatively on the same page about the need for increased spending. Agencies spent an estimated $13 billion on cybersecurity in fiscal 2011, according to the Office of Management and budget.
[ What security threats concern federal IT pros the most? Read Federal IT Survey: Hacktivists, Cybercriminals Are Top Threats. ]
Cybersecurity is the number-one priority of federal IT pros, and FISMA is the federal initiative that holds the most sway over agencies' cybersecurity strategies, according to a recent InformationWeek survey. Agencies' top priorities include implementing continuous monitoring and upgrading standard defenses, the survey found.
In addition to continuous monitoring requirements, the new bill mandates that federal agencies ensure that their regular IT systems and so-called "national security systems" that process classified or otherwise sensitive data have "complementary" standards. The bill also requires that agencies do a better job of securing facilities that store and process classified data. It requires the government to establish security baselines to help agencies gauge the effectiveness of security controls they put in place. The bill also would centralize agency cybersecurity authority under the CIO.
Although the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which sets policy guidance under FISMA, has made significant reforms to FISMA requirements in recent years, some officials and members of Congress have advocated for legislative change, and the Federal Information Security Amendments Act was borne from that discussion.
Unlike a number of other cybersecurity bills working their way through Congress, the Federal Information Security Amendments Act has been a bipartisan effort. It was introduced in March by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and is co-sponsored by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
Other bills up for vote this week include: the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, a cybersecurity information-sharing bill that has been widely criticized by privacy advocates but strongly backed by the private sector; the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act, which aims to improve federal cybersecurity research; and another cyber research and development bill.
In our InformationWeek Government virtual event, Next Steps In Cybersecurity, experts will assess the state of cybersecurity in government and present strategies for creating a more secure IT infrastructure. It happens May 24.