White House adviser promises funding, centralization for federal cybersecurity

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President Donald Trump’s budget outline, slated for release Thursday, will propose significant increases in funding for federal cybersecurity, White House homeland security adviser Thomas Bossert said Wednesday.

“President Trump intends to put his money where his mouth is,” Bossert said in his his first major policy speech.

“Cybersecurity will be funded through DHS and the Department of Defense,” he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a keynote address at its Cyber Disrupt 2017 event. Privately, he told a small group prior to his remarks that there would be a “significant plus up” for cyber programs in both DHS and the Pentagon, one of the organizers told CyberScoop.

Bossert also promised that the Obama administration’s push to modernize and centralize federal computer networks will continue under Trump.

“Federal networks at this point can no longer sustain themselves. We cannot tolerate indefensible technology, outdated antiquated hardware and software,” Bossert said. “Modernization is absolutely critical. We will pursue that. In the coming weeks and months you’ll see more details about how we will pursue that.”

He added that it was time to “abandon the illusion” that the federal government has the resources “expertise and capital”  to defend 190 separate networks.

Barack Obama’s White House cybersecurity adviser, Michael Daniel, welcomed what he saw was a degree of continuity with the predecessor Administration’s policies but cautioned that the devil of the budget proposal would be in the detail.

“Typically at this stage the budget proposal is very high-level and topline … it will be interesting to see what the detail is as that comes out later in the process,” Daniel told CyberScoop. He was scheduled to later during the daylong event.

Bossert took no audience questions and left through a side-door avoiding reporters. He did participate in a Q&A with event moderator Frances Townsend, who was the top homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush. Bossert served as her deputy in that job.

Bossert asked the audience not to obsess about the cybersecurity executive order that has been circulating in draft form, and which he said might be finalized in the coming “weeks or months.”

“Please don’t focus on the EO,” he said, urging the audience instead to pay attention to the budget outline Thursday.

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budget, CSIS, federal cybersecurity, federal IT, federal IT security, frances townsend, IT Modernization, Thomas Bossert, White House