President Obama is determined to improve cybersecurity with his new plan. (© AP Images)

It’s going to be much tougher to steal personal data or threaten network systems under President Obama’s proposed Cybersecurity National Action Plan.

“With the nation’s cyber adversaries getting more sophisticated every day — developing new botnets, spyware, malware and ransomware — we have to be even more nimble and resilient, and stay ahead of these threats,” Obama wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

While the $19 billion proposal mostly aims to improve government IT infrastructure, ordinary citizens may also see enhanced online security:

  • Two-step verification: The plan promotes multifactor authentication, or two-step verification, that requires a second login for proof of identification. This includes using fingerprint readers or sending texts to smartphones that include a security code to make information access more secure.
Many cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled around the world. (© AP Images)
  • Jobs and education: More people trained in cybersecurity are needed to make the plan work. Part of the plan calls for millions of dollars to fund cybersecurity scholarships. For example, U.S. Cyber Command (part of the U.S. military) is building a Cyber Mission Force of 133 teams to be staffed by more than 6,000 people.
  • Tech safety stickers: The plan includes a Cybersecurity Assurance Program that would place stickers on tech items to show they are secure. This will “certify networked devices … whether they be refrigerators or medical infusion pumps, so that when you buy a new product, you can be sure that it has been certified to meet security standards,” a White House fact sheet says.

The Cybersecurity National Action Plan is part of President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017.

A 2014 report by Internet security provider McAfee estimates that worldwide, governments, businesses and people lose $400 billion annually to cybercrime. To combat this lawlessness, U.S. colleges and universities offer cybersecurity programs that train students from around the world in the latest approaches to make the Internet safe for everyone.