The partial government shutdown has furloughed nearly half the staff of a new cybersecurity agency, dealing a major setback to protecting vulnerabilities in federal infrastructure.

Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials and lawmakers fear the shutdown, now in its 20th day, could have both short- and long-term effects, hurting the new Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) efforts to get off the ground and potentially pushing existing talent out the door.

Cyber experts say foreign adversaries could try to take advantage of the shutdown now that fewer resources are working to thwart them.

The administration officially launched the new agency, which replaced the department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), late last year. Cyber officials had celebrated in November when President Trump signed a bill renaming the cybersecurity division after the legislation lagged in Congress for months.

But now former DHS officials say efforts to get the agency to full capability are stalled, with about 43 percent of CISA staff currently furloughed, according to planning documents, and the remaining staff likely focused on keeping basic security programs up and running.

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