Biden Proposes Billions to Strengthen U.S. Cybersecurity

Billions of dollars would be allocated to upgrade the nation’s cybersecurity defenses and modernize networks should President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal to secure the nation’s critical systems gain Congressional approval.

The American Jobs Plan, as the White House has named the measure, would see funding directed to improve energy infrastructure at the state and local levels to secure the power grid, improve cyber defenses, update technology, expand broadband and other advances.

“Cybersecurity is a core part of resilience and building infrastructure of the future, and the American Jobs Plan will allocate opportunities and resources to bolster cyber defenses,” the White House said in a Fact Sheet outlining the proposal’s basic elements. The Jobs Plan summary draft follows the President’s executive order on cybersecurity of May 12, 2021.

Related: President Biden's Cybersecurity Strategy, Legislation and Leaders

Administration officials told Bloomberg that the jobs plan is part of a larger initiative to bring cyber issues to the forefront at the federal level. While the administration did not disclose how much money in total would be directed at cybersecurity in the infrastructure bill, here’s what’s known about the proposal at this point:

  • $20 billion investment in Department of Energy block grants at the state, local and tribal government levels to support critical infrastructure. The modernization blocks would be tied to installing cybersecurity technology.
  • $100 billion broadband investment to promote network security. Grant recipients will be asked to source from “trusted vendors” and implement cybersecurity that maps to Biden’s executive order.
  • Tax credits as an incentive to reward the build-out of at least 20 gigawatts of high-voltage capacity power lines that will encourage stronger cybersecurity capabilities. The tax credit is drawn up to help finance cyber technologies for the electric grid.
  • $2 billion to support micro-grids and distributed energy infrastructure for grid resilience in areas with high risk of power outages, critical infrastructure, and front-line communities. The funding is contingent on meeting certain cybersecurity requirements.

Biden’s infrastructure plan is in addition to the $1 billion allocated to modernize technology and upgrade security in federal government networks contained in the recently passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus measure. Some $650 million to support the Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) is included in the legislation. More than $2 billion in discretionary funding to CISA is line-itemed in President Biden’s FY 2022 proposed budget request.

The $1.52 trillion budget outline, which in actuality serves only as a White House wish list, includes $52 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CISA’s umbrella agency. The CISA discretionary request amounts to a $110 million increase from the 2021 enacted level.

Cybersecurity takes a backseat in President Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure package, which is unlikely to garner bipartisan support, with no money allocated to defend the country from cyber attacks on critical infrastructure targets.

D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.