Cyberwar, high-tech weapons take center stage in defense budget

Cyberwar, high-tech weapons take center stage in defense budget: The $552.1 billion defense budget approved by Congress calls for new regulations on cyberweapons — an effort to prevent the pervasive digital bombs from further spreading throughout the world — at the same time that it dramatically boosts spending on them.

Section 940 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, signed into law by President Obama Thursday night, calls for “Control of the Proliferation of Cyber Weapons” following increases in the clear and present danger from cyberbombs such as Stuxnet and growing teams of hackers in foreign countries.

“The President shall establish an interagency process to provide for the establishment of an integrated policy to control the proliferation of cyber weapons through unilateral and cooperative law enforcement activities, financial means, diplomatic engagement, and such other means as the President considers appropriate,” the act declares. The goal of the $2 million Cyber Security Initiative: suppressing the trade in cyber tools and infrastructure that can be used for criminal, terrorist and military activities, while still allowing governments to use those tools in legitimate self-defense.

Cyber is just one aspect of the military’s high-tech arsenal, which has been rapidly transformed to deal with the growing threat. (Indeed, the bill calls for a fresh report to take place in the next year on how secure the country’s major weapons and communications systems are from such attacks.)