Melissa Hathaway: America Has Too Many Ineffective Private-Public Partnerships


Melissa Hathaway

The recent INTERPOL conference held in Hong Kong was an important step for the international, strategic environment to bring like-minded nations together to discuss information security, cybersecurity, and share effective practices for protecting key infrastructure, said Melissa Hathaway, president of Hathaway Global Strategies and former cybersecurity official.

Held Sept. 15-17, the event assembled industry leaders, academic experts and law enforcement representatives of the 188 INTERPOL member countries to discuss how to enhance global cybersecurity through international cooperation. Ronald K. Noble, INTERPOL’s secretary general, kicked off the conference with an opening address, highlighting how cyber crime is “the most dangerous criminal threat we will ever face.” Noble also revealed how cyber crooks had stolen his identity to open two Facebook accounts to obtain details of highly dangerous criminals.

Christopher Painter, senior director of cybersecurity at the U.S. National Security Council, delivered a keynote speech on the U.S. perspective on cybersecurity and international opportunities, and Jeffrey L. Troy, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s cyber division, spoke about international cyber crime and the strategies for threat reduction.

Hathaway, who helped facilitate the panel discussion on international information security strategies, formerly served as senior adviser to former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell. She also spearheaded the 60-day Cyberspace Policy Review, a strategic framework designed to ensure that U.S. government cybersecurity initiatives are appropriately integrated, resourced and coordinated with Congress and industry.

In reference to the conference’s heavy emphasis on global collaboration in fighting the cyber threat, Hathaway spoke to TheNewNewInternet about what many experts and industry insiders have been throwing around lately: private-public partnerships.

“[There are] private-public partnerships that are taking place in Brazil and Malaysia that I believe are working even more effectively than they are in the States,” she said. “I think that we have too many private-public partnerships that are not effective because the government is not focused in their efforts.”

In addition to inadequate focus, Hathaway said what keeps her up at night is that too many people don’t understand what happens in the cyber realm on a day-to-day basis, and how core intellectual property of the United States is being illegally copied and stolen on a daily basis.

An oft-quoted number, experts have estimated that one trillion dollars is lost in stolen intellectual property every year. However, with the exponential rate with which cyber crime is growing, Hathaway dismissed the number as lacking substantial quantitative background.

When asked whether she sees the number of attacks targeting specifically intellectual property increasing, Hathaway replied:

“The trend is definitely going up, [however], I don’t think anyone has been able to truly quantify how much has been lost.”

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