Obama seeks hike in funding as cybersecurity takes top priority

The increase in cybersecurity funding is part of a $4.1 trillion spending plan.

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(Image via CNET/CBS Interactive)

The Obama administration has proposed an increase of one-third in cybersecurity funding for the 2017 fiscal year, a move that would mark cybersecurity as a top priority in government.

Senior administration officials confirmed the funding hike to Reuters, which puts total funding at $19 billion across government. The $5 billion increase in funding will also carve out $3.1 billion for upgrading technologies and networks across various federal agencies.

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By comparison, Microsoft and Symantec spend a little over $1 billion each year on security research and development.

The budget proposal will also include $62 million to help attract cybersecurity and other IT professionals into government. The announcement comes just a week after a former White House technologist was denied security clearance for his connection in his prior journalistic work with classified documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

But it remains unclear if the Republican-controlled Congress will be willing to pass the budget.

Separately, US President Barack Obama is expected to sign an executive order later Tuesday to create a privacy council, which aims to bring privacy officials together across government.

Obama's plan to increase and invest more funding in cybersecurity coincided with comments from the top US intelligence official, who called disruptions and attacks in cyberspace as one of the biggest security threats facing US national security.

James Clapper, director of national intelligence, said in his annual overview of the intelligence and security state of the union that the "ever increasing complexity" of networks may "lead to widespread vulnerabilities in civilian infrastructures and US government systems."

Clapper's comments come a day after US law enforcement was hit with a new breach, in which details of 29,000 FBI and Homeland Security were leaked online.

The latest cyberattack follows a number of high-profile attacks against the Internal Revenue Service and the Office of Personnel Management, which leaked details of millions of former and current civil servants.

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