Putting “Really Mushy” Functions in a Department that Refuses to Be Audited

Noah Shachtman points to NextGov’s unsuccessful attempt to define how much DOD plans to spend on cybersecurity next year. DOD or its components have offered three different versions:

  • DOD’s mid-February report it would spend $2.3 billion
  • Air Force’s mid-February report it, by itself, would spend $4.6 billion
  • DOD’s March 23 revised report it would spend $3.2 billion

Part of the problem, as Shachtman explains in the NextGov piece, is that the definition of what counts as cybersecurity is not yet well defined.

“All of this stuff is still really mushy,” Shachtman said. Further obscuring visibility into the budget is the fact that some cybersecurity funding is classified at Defense components such as the NSA. Meanwhile, Cyber Command presents a new spending variable, he noted.

“Exactly where the NSA ends and the Cyber Command ends is a very open question,” Shachtman said. “How the Cyber Command is supposed to interact with the services is still being worked out.” He predicted it will take years to untangle the process of budgeting for federal computer security.

While you’re trying to get your head around how the Air Force has a bigger budget than the whole DOD for cybersecurity, remember a couple of things.

First, both the Air Force and DOD generally have stated policies of not telling Congress about Special Access Programs (in the case of Air Force) or clandestine cyberops. So to the extent that this mushy budget is mixed in with cyberops (as distinct from cybersecurity), there’s a decent chance Congress isn’t seeing all of it.

But even if Congress decided to look, to the extent that NSA (or CyberCommand, which General Keith Alexander also commands) has a hand in it, Congress is almost guaranteed to be unable to track it closely. That’s because NSA books can’t be audited and apparently NSA doesn’t intend to fix those problems.

Now all of would be pretty funny except that, insofar as the government can’t distinguish between legitimate cybersecurity (you know, preventing hackers and leakers from using thumb drives to upload malware and download entire databases) and cyberwar financially, there’s a decent chance they can’t do so organizationally either.

Or to put it in more tangible terms, HB Gary’s past governmental work has been about cybersecurity–assessing malware and finding intrusions. But they’ve been proposing collecting information about citizens’ First Amendment activity to use to target those citizens. And the Air Force–that entity with a cybersecurity budget bigger than all of DOD’s cybersecurity budget–is the service that was engaging cybersecurity firms to develop persona management software.

But aside from that, why should we be worried that such dangerous entities are organizationally such a clusterfuck?

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

0 Responses to Putting “Really Mushy” Functions in a Department that Refuses to Be Audited

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @LuciferTrust @Subscatter I would go to Red Rocks for most anything but, alas, I am listening from Phoenix where it is already 103º.
1mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Oh yeah, super skier Mikaela Shiffrin is on Wait Wait, and she is as great as billed. This is just an awesome show.
5mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz So Wait Wait Don't Tell Me is from Red Rocks this week. And, yes, it is as awesome as you'd expect. http://t.co/lM37649Qxh
11mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nancyleong @Botanic We were at a private wedding at Desert Botanical and had the run of the park at night. Chihuly at night just incredible
43mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @nancyleong @Botanic I thought I had done a blog post with a bunch of pics, but guess I didn't get around to it. Chihuly is very cool.
43mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @TimothyS @charliehaden Yep. Huge loss.
46mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Masoninblue But hope they get there; screw Walmart.
53mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Masoninblue Think they will have to find Walmart had a policy of encouraging over-hours operation. May be a tough road to plow.
53mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @TimothyS @charliehaden I listen to Brubeck for that. But he hasn't tweeted me in years!
59mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @lizzwinstead Like Ram a lot, but LOVE Band On The Run, Speed of Sound and Venus and Mars. Gonna have to go drag them out now. #GoodCall
1hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @lizzwinstead Most of the early Wings stuff is pretty awesome. Extremely underrated.
1hreplyretweetfavorite