The New Year brought with it renewed hope for improving U.S. cybersecurity as President Obama on Thursday signed off on the $633 billion 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The nearly 700-page bill, which passed the House and Senate in December, authorizes appropriations for Defense Department activities in fiscal year 2013, including improvements to DOD’s capabilities in cyberspace.

Among the bill’s provisions, the department will be required to “develop a strategy to acquire next-generation host-based cybersecurity tools and capabilities” to better detect threats and defend government systems.

Seemingly in acknowledgement of the changing face of the cyber threat, the provision also requires that new security solutions “be compatible with cloud-based, thin-client and virtualized environments as well as battlefield devices and weapons systems.”

With continued reports of nation state-sponsored hacking, the 2013 NDAA appropriates funding to “expand capacity to succeed against adversary states armed with advanced anti-access capabilities and/or nuclear weapons and improve capabilities to conduct effective operations in cyberspace.”

According to DOD’s review of the approved budget, $3.4 billion of the 2013 funding will assist the U.S. Cyber Command with ensuring “our military is ready to effectively operate in cyberspace across the full range of cyber contingencies.”

Defense contractors will also face new mandates, being required to follow certain procedures to report when one of their networks or information systems has been penetrated, including providing “a description of the technique or method used in such penetration; a sample of the malicious software, if discovered and isolated by the contractor, involved in such penetration; [and] a summary of information created by or for the department in connection with any department program that has been potentially compromised due to such penetration.”

With talks of sequestration through much of 2012, President Obama initially proposed a defense budget of $613.9 billion for fiscal 2013. On Thursday, he signed into law the 2013 $633 billion NDAA, coming in at $29 billion under the $662 billion in defense funding authorized for 2012.

“I have approved this annual defense authorization legislation, as I have in previous years, because it authorizes essential support for service members and their families, renews vital national security programs, and helps ensure that the United States will continue to have the strongest military in the world,” Obama said in a statement. “Though I continue to oppose certain sections of the Act, the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore.”

The president did not list any of the cybersecurity mandates among certain sections of the bill he opposed, further fueling rumors that a White House cyber executive order may soon be on its way.


Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is also creator of the blog  Follow her on Twitter at @OnCybersecurity.

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Michelle Kincaid is a DC-based public affairs professional specializing in technology policy. She is creator of the blog