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Pentagon Seeks $500 Million for Cyber Technologies

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Defense Department is planning to spend $500 million to research new cyber security technologies including cloud computing and encrypted data processing, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn said today.

The Pentagon will also provide “seed capital for companies to develop dual-use technologies that serve our cyber security needs,” Lynn said in prepared remarks delivered at a technology conference in San Francisco.

“Cyber defense is not a military mission, like defending our airspace, where the sole responsibility lies with the military,” Lynn said. “The overwhelming percentage of our nation’s critical infrastructure -- including the Internet itself -- is largely in private hands. It is going to take a public-private partnership to secure our networks.”

The $500 million is part of the Pentagon’s 2012 budget request of $2.3 billion to improve the Defense Department’s cyber capabilities. At a Pentagon news conference yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the research money, to be spent through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, “big investment dollars, looking to the future.”

The military is reaching out to commercial companies for the latest technologies and technical experts to safeguard the Pentagon’s computer networks from attacks and espionage, Lynn said. The effort is part of a “comprehensive cyber strategy called Cyber 3.0,” he said.

Intel, Google

Lynn told the conference that he had met with Intel Corp. and Google Inc., and planned to meet with Microsoft Corp. “They all think there is technology that can be deployed, both hardware and software” that can adapt technologies to better defend against attacks.

Other elements of the Pentagon’s strategy include developing “active defenses” -- technologies that detect attacks and probes as they occur, as opposed to “defenses that employ only after-the-fact detection and notification,” Lynn said.

The Defense Department is working with the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that the U.S. electrical grid and financial systems are as safe as the military’s networks, Lynn said. “Secure military networks will matter little if the power grid cuts or the rest of government stops functioning.”

The Pentagon also is building “collective defenses” with allies and civilian agencies to monitor computer networks and warn each other of cyber intrusions, Lynn said.

U.S. lawmakers have said that hackers probe government computer networks “millions of times” a day and about 9 million Americans have their identities stolen by cyber thieves every year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gopal Ratnam in Washington at gratnam1@bloomberg.net. Rachael King in San Francisco at rking25@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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