recommended reading

Napolitano: Sequestration Could Compromise U.S. Computer Networks

Susan Walsh/AP

The day after President Obama tasked the Homeland Security Department with persuading operators of dams and other vital commercial systems to secure their computers, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said impending budget hacks could weaken the department’s ability to carry out the job.

Given that some Republicans seem open to letting sequestration -- automatic, congressionally-mandated spending cuts -- take effect on March 1, agencies are starting to detail how the reductions would affect government services.

Sequestration would “leave critical infrastructure vulnerable to attacks” and “significantly scale back cyber security infrastructure protections that have been developed in recent years,” Napolitano wrote in a Feb. 13 letter to Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee. He had written Napolitano on Feb. 1 to ask about the ramifications of an estimated 7.6 percent to 9.4 percent decrease in departmental funding.

“Reductions in funding for operations, maintenance and analytical contracts supporting the National Cybersecurity Protection System (NCPS) would impact our ability to detect and analyze emerging cyber threats and protect civilian federal computer networks,” she added. That system, better known as Einstein, is a governmentwide intrusion prevention application under development.

Obama has given DHS and the National Institute of Standards and Technology one year to work with industry on voluntary security standards for networks operating the electric grid, sewage treatment plants, railways and other infrastructure that could cost lives if disrupted.  The mandate is part of an executive order Obama handed down shortly before Tuesday night’s State of the Union Address.

Thompson pointed to the poor timing of cyber spending cuts in a statement, after receiving Napolitano’s letter.

The sequester will lead to “far less resources for cybersecurity – which, just last night, the president highlighted as a critical area of importance,” he wrote. 

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.