Melissa Hathaway Challenged by Cyber Security



As part of President Obamas cyber security plan, the White House is planning on announcing that Melissa Hathaway, the current top cyber security adviser, will oversee a 60-day review of federal cyber security efforts. Insiders have stated that after this assignment, she will likely be offered the position of cyber czar. Hathaway serves as the cyber coordination executive at the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and was senior adviser to former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell. She is also as chair on the National Cyber Study Group, as well as a senior-level interagency body that played a lead role in the development of President Bush's Comprehensive National Cyber security Initiative.

Hathaway has her work cut out for her. Researchers recently concluded the average number of unique new infected sites grew from 100,000-200,000 a day to 200,000-300,000 a day and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. In addition, the world recently witnessed the third cyber attack against a country (Kyrgyzstan). Many cyber security experts have stated that the threat of attack by traditional artillery and nuclear warfare has been replaced by cyber attacks aimed at Internet targets for gathering intelligence and disrupting communications. "We are in a new age of warfare," stated one cyber Intelligence analyst I talked with on the subject. She went on to say that "cyber attacks are likely to proceed any conventional attack or at least done in coordination with a conventional or nuclear attack."

Can the United States defend our networks against cyber-attack? That was just one of the many questions President Obama's pick for CIA Director Leon Panetta was asked in his confirmation hearings. It is clear Hathaway will have her hands full. The United States is by far the most reliant on computer technology and the internet, as such it faces so many challenges securing cyber space and defend and protect the country against cyber attacks. Hathaway is a firm believer that government and the private sector must join together to address this national security threat. She is well aware that threats to government systems stem from both technology and from the policies, practices and procedures that govern how people use that technology.

-- Kevin Coleman

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