The Public Eye with Eric Chabrow

Does Melissa Hathaway Bank Online?

Does Melissa Hathaway Bank Online?

Melissa Hathaway should know better than anyone about the safety - or vulnerability - of our computer networks, having conducted the 60-day cybersecurity policy review of the federal government's and nation's IT infrastructure for President Obama.

Now a senior adviser at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, Hathaway spoke with me on Tuesday about the current state of our cybersecurity posture (that podcast interview will be posted presently). I ended our conversation by asking how secure should people feel about banking and shopping online. Hathaway's response:

"E-commerce fraud is up significantly, I think over 70 percent, as to the recent statistics that I saw. It's important to have better credentialing and authentication of customers online in order to assure the security with banking and e-commerce broadly."

Do you bank online?

"Occasionally, I shop online. I do not do banking online."

Is that because you don't trust the current environment?

"I believe that the banks ... that they will cover all liabilities if your accounts were taken. I just don't have the comfort level of e-commerce yet based on current technology."

Hathaway's time at the White House analyzing IT vulnerabilities didn't sway her to stop banking. She has never banked online. I asked if I should reassess my online banking addiction. Her response wasn't comforting:

"I think that certainly your bank will cover you if there is a problem, but I think that as you are going to perhaps an unknown vendor out in cyberspace, and you're going to give them your credit card, you should think twice about that."

I already avoid unknown e-commerce sites. But give up online banking? That'll be tough.

About the Author

Eric Chabrow

Eric Chabrow

Retired Executive Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Chabrow, who retired at the end of 2017, hosted and produced the semi-weekly podcast ISMG Security Report and oversaw ISMG's GovInfoSecurity and InfoRiskToday. He's a veteran multimedia journalist who has covered information technology, government and business.

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