On Tuesday, the House passed a massive, $1.1 trillion spending package. Among other things, it rolls back some of the budget cuts known as sequestration and trims some money from the Affordable Care Act. But it also drives more money than ever toward the agency tasked with coordinating the military's cyber resources.
Cyber Command — or CYBERCOM, for short — does a huge amount of the Pentagon's work in cyberspace. It reportedly played a role in launching the Stuxnet attack against Iran that disabled the country's nuclear centrifuges for a time, and exists under the same command that oversees America's nuclear arsenal. Over the next few years, it plans to staff up in a major way — adding 4,000 people to its payroll.
All those extra hackers will cost money. How much? Well, for fiscal 2014 alone, CYBERCOM's budget will be more than twice what it was last year, according to the just-passed House appropriations bill.
CYBERCOM's budget has historically been obscured from the public. For this story, three Washington think tanks that closely monitor cybersecurity issues were unable to say how much money Cyber Command gets from Congress every year.
But appropriators this year asked that the figure be broken out explicitly in the bill for the first time. We now know that the omnibus spending package sets aside $447 million for Cyber Command this year.
That's all very well, but how do we know it's double CYBERCOM's budget for fiscal 2013?
When I asked the agency directly, a spokesperson provided the following figures:
Those figures represent the totality of congressional funding dating back to the birth of Cyber Command, the spokesperson told me. Going by those numbers, the House has just approved a nearly fourfold increase in CYBERCOM's budget since the agency's inception.
The spending bill must still be approved by the Senate and signed by the president. But CYBERCOM's exploding budget makes a lot of sense for a defense industry that now sees cybersecurity, not terrorism, as the biggest (and growing) threat to the country.