Melissa Hathaway: Lack of permanent cyber coordinator doesn’t show lack of priority by White House

melissa hathawayCybersecurity threats are “just the beginning of the beginning.” Melissa Hathaway recently drew that assessment in accepting Information Security Magazine’s 5th annual Security 7 Awards. The biggest casualty on the cybersecurity front is theft of corporate intellectual property and other proprietary data. That loss, writes Hathaway in Information Security’s Oct. issue, will ensure that America continues to lose its market advantage.

But there’s hope. Hathaway restated her belief that a public-private partnership and action plan are essential to meet the challenges ahead. “Our government must take bold steps to operationalize a partnership with industry,” she writes. “We need greater information sharing between the government and private sector on what is being targeted, and how, and why it is important to protect ourselves …”

The onus, it seems, is on government to take the lead. “I believe that the private sector is ready to work with government on these efforts,” writes Hathaway, “and in order to take advantage of this opportunity, the government must actively engage the private sector and set aggressive milestones toward achieving common goals.”

Hathaway: Cybersecurity is priority for Obama

Back in August, Hathaway resigned as Obama’s cybersecurity adviser, a move that set off a speculation as to whether any differences in policy direction were the cause. Hathaway addressed those rumors the other day with Federal News Radio. The short answer is no. Hathaway says she understood that any cyber coordinator would need a strong background in “not just national security policy, but also economic security policy,” and even drew up a list of potential candidates who met the evaluation criteria. Hathaway also states that lack of a permanent cyber coordinator does not indicate a lack of priority by the White House.

Hathaway, for her part, says the private sector is where she can exercise most influence. “I would be more effective from the private sector and being able to work on many of the recommendations we made in the cyberspace review but from a different vantage point,” Hathaway says.” Since leaving government, Hathaway has opened her own consulting firm. She will also work with Harvard Kennedy School of Government and law school, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on various speaking and research projects.

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