How much does the U.S. government spend to fight cyber crime? It’s impossible to know for sure because much of the money is tucked away in the mysterious black budget.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, located inside a hollowed-out part of Cheyenne Mountain, has been tracking Santa's progress every Christmas Eve for the past 44 years. Photo by Molly Van Wagner
Cyber thieves steal an estimated $2 trillion a year, but figuring out how much the U.S. government spends to counter its computerized foes is far tougher.
Part of the equation comes down to definitions. Is someone who maintains email servers involved in cybersecurity? The answer is maybe.
The Pentagon this year pledged to increase cyber spending by more than 10 percent to $6.7 billion. That cash would pay for “defensive and offensive cyberspace operations, capabilities, and cyber strategy.” How much of those billions go to cybersecurity is open to debate.
Other cyber money exists — but good luck finding out how much.
Almost every military contract has a portion of cyber spending. Aircraft manufacturers build cybersecurity into the chips they produce. Satellite makers do the same for spacecraft and pay to make ground systems less vulnerable to hackers.
And much of the military’s work in cyberspace comes from a budget nobody talks about — the $53.5 billion black budget that pays for intelligence programs and other government secrets.
The Defense Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office, National Security Agency and other entities have computer operations in Colorado Springs and on the Front Range.
All are financed by the black budget.
Officials in recent weeks confirmed that some of that activity is in the bowels of the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, where computer servers are kept safe by blast doors and 2,000 feet of granite that looms above the 5-acre underground tunnel complex.
Is someone who maintains email servers involved in cybersecurity? The answer is maybe.
Other computing work is done at Schriever Air Force Base, which hosts secretive operations behind a prisonlike double fence inside a secure area some have dubbed “Area 52.”
The biggest place for secretive computer work, though, may be the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. That facility gathers data from intelligence satellites and is home to code breakers for military services and intelligence agencies.
But — like the money behind most cybersecurity — no one will say how much that costs.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240