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Sen. Mark Warner demands Pentagon increase cybersecurity spending

Senator Mark Warner talks about the Wall Street reform legislation during a press conference with Senator Chris Dodd in the U.S. Capitol on April 19, 2010. (Riki Parikh/Sen. Warner's Office)
December 12, 2018

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner spoke at the Center for a New American Security on Friday where he called on the Pentagon to increase its cybersecurity spending.

Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it’s time for an overhaul in the U.S. cybersecurity policy due to insufficient investments and defense against cyberattacks from foreign entities, SF Gate reported Friday.

The senator explained that more funding is needed to increase investments in cybersecurity research and development, as well as cybertechnology for the military, to rectify ongoing inadequate investments and poor oversight that has led to failures in the U.S. cyber defense capabilities.

“We need to realign our priorities while we still can” Warner said, according to Fifth Domain. “We need to redirect some of our DoD spending to cyber and, frankly, within other parts of our government, misinformation and disinformation.”

Warner took aim at the Pentagon’s $8.5 billion cybersecurity budget, contrasting it to Russia and China, who have been the primary sources of cyber threats to the U.S.

Warner said that Russia allocates “a much greater portion of its much smaller budget to cyber and other tools of asymmetric warfare,” adding that Russia’s capabilities are “already ahead of us.”

Warner also noted China’s heavy investment on cyber technology in contrast with the U.S.

“The frightening thing to me is the delta of what we spend on our defense budget and what China spends, that $500 million. China is investing in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and 5G and a whole host of other technologies where China wants to be our peer.”

Warner argued that the White House hasn’t done enough on cybersecurity, and suggested that the administration have a Cabinet position solely devoted to cyber affairs, as well as expanding the cyber strategy to include international alliances for the purpose of countering cyber threats from foreign adversaries.

“Our personal, corporate and government data is being bled from every network every day,” he said, according to NextGov. “Our faith in our institutions and our tolerance of one another is being eroded by misinformation. It’s time that we dramatically shift how we view these threats.”

The Trump Administration has appeared to increase its focus on cybersecurity, however, as it released a national cyber strategy in September – the first of its kind in 15 years.

The cyber strategy policy detailed the capabilities of China and Russia, emphasizing the need for a more progressive approach to countering widespread interference activities, instead of retroactively dealing with breaches and disinformation campaigns.

Further, reports from November revealed that the Pentagon coordinated with intelligence agencies to establish a cyber attack plan against Russia that would allow U.S. military hackers to breach Russian networks in the event of Russian election interference.