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Time and time again the US government has been criticized for not spending enough on cybersecurity to protect its data against cyber-attacks, and the budget may be the reason why.

Over the past two years, cyber-attacks from Russia and China have infiltrated everything from the US election results to the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff’s email  to the personal information of 7% of all government employees. There were also reports that foreign hacks had managed to identify and track the whereabouts of intelligence officers.

According to Business Insider, although the spending on cybersecurity has increased to more than $12 billion a year, so has the amount of attacks, and the budget to protect sensitive data just isn’t enough.

The need to increase cybersecurity spendingData taken from a study by Bank of American Merrill Lynch, showed that cyber attacks increased 12-fold between 2006 to 2014, from 5,503 to 67,168.

Results showed that the amount US departments are spending on protecting against these attacks is extremely low, and only the Department of Homeland Security spends more that 3% of its budget on cybersecurity.

Statistics show that a staggering 11 federal departments spent less than 1% of their budget on cybersecurity in 2015.

The FBI is now the lead federal agency for investigating cyber-attacks by criminals, overseas adversaries, and terrorists, and is doing all it can to tackle the issues. Cyber intrusions are becoming more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated, the agency states.

According to CNNTech, Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), has said that this must change and we need to become more cybersecurity vigilant.

Funded in part by the Department of Homeland Security, the NCSA works to educate people about cybersecurity and how to combat attacks.

Kaiser told CNNTech that more emphasis should be made on cybersecurity in the United States. “More of the population uses technology than drives,” Kaiser said. “And the car culture that we live in is omnipresent and requires everyone to have a basic level of doing it well. Otherwise people would be getting hit by cars all the time. The same is true of cyber.”

In a term, reminiscent of driving safety culture, the NCSA has adopted the slogan “Stop. Think. Connect” to try and educate people on the importance of protecting their data.

“Stop. Think. Connect.” – National Cyber Security Alliance

Despite these steps, cyber-attacks and more recently ransomware are a growing threat as hackers continue to hold organizations to ransom to release their systems and personal data.

The NCSA is trying to encourage members of the public, independent corporations and even government agencies to adopt stricter and tighter online security measures to protect themselves, but each time a new security wall is created hackers find a way to break through it.

Despite technological advancements and the latest innovative solutions, there will always be the threat of cyber-attacks.

As 2017 throws up yet more threats to our security, the government would be wise to increase its spend on cybersecurity. As the digital age intensifies, and as we continue to live our lives on digital platforms, cyber-attacks are most definitely the greatest threat to our security this millennium.

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