According to Atlas VPN investigation, the US government is set to allocate $18.78 billion for cybersecurity spending in 2021.
In September 2018, the White House published the National Cyber Strategy, which provides strategic steps towards securing the government and all critical infrastructure from cyber threats.
The Department of Defense (DoD) in the Cyber Strategy report outlines the main threats that the US faces regarding cybercrime: “Competitors deterred from engaging the United States and our allies in an armed conflict are using cyberspace operations to steal our technology, disrupt our government and commerce, challenge our democratic processes, and threaten our critical infrastructure.”
Due to these reasons, the proposed cyber defense budget amounts to $18.779 billion in 2021.
To gain insight into which agencies the US President prioritises when proposing the cybersecurity funding, Atlas VPN analysed 2020 and 2021 government cybersecurity budget requests.
In the analysis, years referenced for budget data are fiscal years unless otherwise noted. Also, due to some activities’ sensitive nature, the amount does not represent the entire cyber budget.
In 2021, the Department of Defense requested the most funding for cybersecurity purposes by far, with $9.85 billion. Meaning, the DoD digital security budget amounts to over 52% of the whole federal cybersecurity spend.
These funds aim to support the Pentagon’s efforts to defend against cyberattacks against US forces. Also, the US forces need to develop abilities to conduct cyber warfare against existing and potential enemies.
Compared to 2020, the DoD cybersecurity funding decreased by 2.27%.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cybersecurity budget is a distant second at $2.6 billion. This sum would comprise 13.87% of the total requested budget.
DHS’s main priority is to protect the federal government’s digital infrastructure against cyber intrusions. In 2021, the DHS requests $30 million more funding than they did in 2020, which is a 1.17% increase.
Third in line is the Department of Justice (DOJ), with a proposed $929.2 million funding for cybersecurity purposes. This sum would amount to nearly 5% of the total cybersecurity budget. In 2021, the requested DOJ budget grew by 3.19%.
Comparing the total cybersecurity budget in 2020, which was $18,792 million and $18,779 million in 2021, it decreased by 0.07%
To look at things from a wider perspective, in 2021, the total national defense budget is $740.5 billion. In contrast, cybersecurity spending comprises only 2.5% of this sum.
Cybersecurity funding winners and losers
Atlas VPN reviewed the 2020 and 2021 cybersecurity budgets and found that, out of 25 federal agencies, 12 will see a decreased cybersecurity budget in 2021.
The biggest drop in the proposed budget is for the Department of Commerce, which will decrease by over 26%, from $514.3 million in 2020 to $378.1 million in 2021.
The Department of Veterans Affairs agency got its budget cut by over 12%, from $524.6 million in 2020 to $460.4 million in 2021.
Thirteen agencies will get more funds for cybersecurity spendings in 2021 than they did in 2020.
The most significant boost is for the Environmental Protection Agency, seeing a 44% cybersecurity budget increase, from $32.5 million in 2020 to $46.8 million in 2021.
The Department of Energy will get an additional 20.93% of funding, from $550.4 million in 2020 to $665.5 million in 2021.
The Department of State saw similar budget growth, with 20.4%, from $405.8 million in 2020 to $488.6 in 2021.
COVID-19 and cybersecurity
So far, the US government has not stated if they will increase, decrease, or keep the cybersecurity budget the same after seeing how the coronavirus crisis is creating new opportunities for cybercriminals.
However, recent research found that 68% of surveyed organisations are planning to increase their cybersecurity spending after the coronavirus outbreak.
The survey does note that in order to increase the cybersecurity budget, companies will have to cut funding in other departments. The question is whether the US government will be willing to pull funds from other areas to strengthen cybersecurity?
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