Hathaway Says White House Needs to Set Cybersecurity Policies


Melissa Hathaway, the Obama administration's acting senior director for cyberspace, told RSA conference attendees this week that the White House should have a direct role in determining the country's policies on cybersecurity.


According to The New York Times, Hathaway thinks the only way to get a handle on cybersecurity is to set the tone at the very top. "It requires leading from the top: from the White House, to departments and agencies, state, local, tribal governments, the C-Suite, and to the local classroom and library," she said. Hathaway's remarks came near the end of her 60-day review of the current state of cybersecurity in the U.S.


Among other things, Hathaway found that "responsibilities for cyberspace are scattered across too many departments," Computerworld reports. She also advocates for more collaboration between the public and private sectors to ensure that cyber threats are addressed appropriately.


Legislators are also adding their weight to the push for change. Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) are sponsoring a bill that would give the government "sweeping authority" over cybersecurity policies and enforcement. One provision would allow the president to disconnect users from the Internet if national security required it.


Security experts echo Hathaway's admonition, however, that recommendations from her 60-day review are the beginning of a long process -- a marathon, of sorts.