Governance

Hathaway: Feds Can't Safeguard Cyber Assets Alone

Ex-White House Adviser Publishes First Paper After Government Exit
Hathaway: Feds Can't Safeguard Cyber Assets Alone
In her first published work as an academic researcher since leaving government service, Strategic Advantage: Why America Should Care About Cybersecurity, Melissa Hathaway called on the federal government to creatively collaborate with the private sector to tailor and scale cybersecurity defenses.

Comparing the quest to secure critical federal and national IT assets to the Chinese strategy game Wei-Ch'i, in which stones are placed on a board near one another to defend ones territory, Hathaway wrote:

"We need to work together to ensure our highest performance, by placing our stones close together and sharing information to help support each other and avoid capture. We also need to be placing stones far apart, using our reach as global companies and a strong nation to create influence across more of the boards. We need to harness America's ingenuity and innovation and downright determination to win. We cannot afford to have parochialism interfere with what must be done. We must act together, or we will fail."

Hathaway, as the acting senior director for cyberspace at the National Security Council earlier this year, led President Obama's 60-day cyberspace policy review that led to the administration's IT security blueprint unveiled last May. She resigned in August, founded a consultancy and last month joined the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School for Government at Harvard University as a senior adviser to its cybersecurity initiative.

In the paper, published by the Belfer Center, Hathaway referenced an addendum to the 60-day review that addressed the past 150 years of the growth of modern communications technology infrastructure. New technology, she writes, leads to new vested authority within the federal government that leads to concerns from civil liberties and privacy perspectives, and creates a patchwork of laws over the years that can complicate the protection of cyber assets.

"Why do I raise this? ... Today, there are at least eleven pieces of legislation pending in Congress that, if not coordinated properly, will further complicate what is already a very complex and murky situation.

The paper drives home the point that cybersecurity is not just a national security issue, but one of national economic survival.

"As more of our networks are compromised, or intellectual property is stolen, corporate America will continue to lose market advantage and begin to be displaced. A government cannot develop a strategy independent of private-sector insight and cooperation. Rather, the government will depend on the private sector and its capabilities to identify the next zero day exploit and create the patch for all of our systems.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Host & Producer, ISMG Security Report; Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity & InfoRiskToday

Chabrow hosts and produces the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversees ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.




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