US Proposes $750m For Federal SolarWinds Response

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Budget proposed by US president Joe Biden includes $750m for federal agencies affected by SolarWinds attack to improve cybersecurity infrastructure

US president Joe Biden has proposed $750 million (£530m) in funding for government agencies affected by the SolarWinds hack to improve cybersecurity infrastructure.

The proposal, part of a budget plan for fiscal 2022, comes as Microsoft warns that the SolarWinds hackers are renewing their activity.

The funds are in addition to a $500m fund for federal cybersecurity following the attack that affected nine agencies, including the State Department and Treasury.

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Infrastructure

“Cybersecurity is a top priority for this administration, and recent events, such as the SolarWinds cyber incident, have shown that adversaries continue to target federal systems,” the administration said in one budget document.

The budget proposes $9.8bn in federal civilian cybersecurity funding, up 14 percent from spending levels in the current fiscal year, according to a summary.

It also requests $15m for the recently created national cyber director office of the White House, and $20m for a new Cyber Response and Recovery Fund.

The budget also requests a $110m increase for the Department of Homeland Security’s $2bn Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

While the budget requires congressional approval, it reflects the administration’s priorities following the highly publicised SolarWinds attack, which the US and the UK have blamed on Russia’s intelligence service.

New attacks

The budget doesn’t list specific cybersecurity measures that would be funded, but said the priority would be to reduce the risk and impact of SolarWinds-style attacks “based on data-driven, risk-based assessments of the threat environment and the current federal cybersecurity posture”, according to a budget document.

The SolarWinds attack, identified in December, installed backdoors in the IT systems of thousands of companies and government offices that used SolarWinds products.

Microsoft president Brad Smith at the time described the hack as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen”.

Microsoft said last week the group behind the attack is currently targeting government agencies, think tanks, consultants, and non-governmental organisations.

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