Obama Proposes Federal CISO, Huge InfoSec Boost


President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order on Wednesday that put cyber crimes on par with others that can result in sanctions against malicious actors and those who support them.
President Obama proposed a budget for fiscal year 2017 that boosts spending on cyber security by 35% and proposes to create a new Federal CISO.

In-brief: President Barack Obama highlighted cyber security as a top policy priority in the final budget proposal of his presidency, seeking a massive expansion in funding for federal information security and the creation of a new federal chief information security officer (CISO).

In his final budget proposal as President, Barack Obama highlighted cyber security as a top policy priority, proposing a massive expansion in funding for federal information security and the creation of a new federal chief information security officer (CISO).

The White House released on Tuesday details of a $19 billion Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that will overhaul the way the federal government manages the security of its information systems and invest in programs to increase awareness of cyber security in the business community and the public sphere. The proposal for fiscal year 2017 represents a steep increase in funding – 35% over FY 2016 spending.

Writing on the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal, President Obama  cited the string of targeted attacks against federal agencies, including the Office of Personnel Management, as well as private sector defense contractors and firms like Sony.

“These cyber threats are among the most urgent dangers to America’s economic and national security,” The President wrote.

[Read more Security Ledger coverage of cybersecurity legislation here.]

While touting the accomplishments of his administration, including the recently signed Cybersecurity Act of 2015, Obama said that much more needs to be done. Among other things, he is proposing a $3 billion fund to “kick-start” an overhaul of federal computer systems.

“It is no secret that too often government IT is like an Atari game in an Xbox world,” the President wrote, citing T Social Security Administration’s continued reliance on mainframe computers and software from the 1960s. “No successful business could operate this way,” he concluded.


The President’s budget would require agencies to increase protections for their most valued information and make it easier for them to update their networks. To lead federal efforts on information security, the budget would create a new federal position, Chief Information Security Officer to oversee changes across government.

The White House budget proposal would also create a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity” that will combine top talent from outside of government to make recommendations on long-term plans to strengthen cybersecurity in the public and private sectors.

The proposal also puts weight (albeit verbal) behind efforts to secure the accounts of Americans online, by “moving beyond passwords and adding an extra layer of security” such as biometric identifiers or text messages as second factors.

The news comes just days after the revelation of yet another breach of federal information systems. As Security Ledger reported on Monday, an unidentified hacker appears to have compromised the network of the U.S. Department of Justice, making off with hundreds of Gigabytes of data, including personal data on tens of thousands of employees of the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.