House spending bill would bolster cybersecurity programs

The House has increased the Homeland Security Department's fiscal 2006 budget to combat cyber crimes.

The House passed the $30.8 billion fiscal 2006 Homeland Security spending bill last week, which would increase funding for cybersecurity programs within the Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) divisions. To combat cyber breaches domestically and internationally, the House version would provide $43.6 million for the Secret Service's electronic crimes special agent program -- $8 million more than President Bush requested.

"Identity theft is now the fastest growing form of financial crime," said the bill's report. "Major database intrusions are now occurring at a pace of almost one per week, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of personal data profiles and millions of dollars in financial fraud."

The report said the Secret Service is the lead agency for financial crime and combined with ECSAP it is "one of the most technically advanced entities in the global law enforcement community." The bill allocates $2.4 million for 15 additional foreign field agents to fight cyber crimes overseas.

The bill included $5 million for ICE's cyber crime centers -- $800,000 above the fiscal 2005 allocation. That program assists in forensic investigations, child exploitation cases, computer forensics and cyber crimes. The additional funding is to improve data storage capacity and establish six regional cyber crime facilities with computer forensic laboratories.

The bill also provided $73.3 million for the IAIP's program to coordinate the federal government's cyber security efforts with the private sector to "advance computer security preparedness and the response to cyber attacks."

The IAIP established the Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which studies vulnerabilities in the nation's cyber infrastructure. Bush requested the same amount as provided in the House bill.

The House bill cut $1.3 million from the Science and Technology division's cyber security program. The initiative, which focuses on improving control systems, developing advanced technology and economic assessment to improve cyber security investments, would receive $16.7 million next year. Bush requested the same amount.

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