The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) revealed this week that it will drastically increase its budget for cybersecurity research, highlighting the important role that data protection is now playing in today's military operations.
According to an announcement from the Department of Defense agency, cybersecurity research investments will increase by about 50 percent during the next five years.
"Malicious cyberattacks are not merely an existential threat to our bits and bytes; they are a real threat to our physical systems, including our military systems," said DARPA director Regina Dugan. "To this end, in the coming years we will focus an increasing portion of our cyber research on the investigation of offensive capabilities to address military-specific needs."
This increased focus on cybersecurity has been a trend for DARPA in recent years. In 2009, the agency spent $120 million on cyber research. As of fiscal year 2012, DARPA has allotted $208 million for such activities. By 2017, the agency expects cybersecurity research to account for 12 percent of its annual budget.
"We are shifting our investments to activities that promise more convergence with the threat and that recognize the needs of the Department of Defense," Dugan said.
Much of the investment hike is due to rising costs of information security software, DARPA stated. However, Dugan added that these measures are necessary to handle the evolving threats against the nation's critical IT infrastructure. She noted that many of the practices in place today are "not convergent with an evolving threat," suggesting that the agency needs to be more proactive in squelching cyberthreats before they can do any serious damage.
Such cyberthreats were recently highlighted in a report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission (USCC), which asserted that Chinese hackers – possibly from the military – had attacked two U.S. satellites at least four times between 2007 and 2008. Though it is unclear what the nature of the attacks were, such activities could prove disastrous if hackers are able to interfere with the satellites' ability to communicate.
Additionally, cyberthreats against the nation's electric grid and other systems have been discussed in recent years, as a successful cyberattack could render these resources inaccessible.
Of course, no such attack has been successfully carried out in the United States to date, but cyberthreats are constantly evolving, necessitating that data protection practices do the same. With its new plan, DARPA appears focused on addressing these challenges.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro