U.S. Should Play Larger Role in Securing Internet, Hathaway Says

By George Hulme
In her much anticipated talk, acting senior director for cyberspace by President Obama, Melissa Hathaway generally reviewed what we already knew, and what has been previously reported when it comes to federal cyber security: The White House should coordinate IT security efforts; private sector needs to play a bigger role in securing cyberspace (hey, wasn’t this also the mantra for Richard Clarke’s National Strategy to Secure Cyber Space?); and a handful of agencies should be responsible for the security of federal computer networks.

In her much anticipated talk, acting senior director for cyberspace by President Obama, Melissa Hathaway generally reviewed what we already knew, and what has been previously reported when it comes to federal cyber security: The White House should coordinate IT security efforts; private sector needs to play a bigger role in securing cyberspace (hey, wasn’t this also the mantra for Richard Clarke’s National Strategy to Secure Cyber Space?); and a handful of agencies should be responsible for the security of federal computer networks.

While a more detailed public discussion emanating from the just completed 60 day review of the state of federal cyber security will be forthcoming, Hathaway did share some bullet points:

  • It is the fundamental responsibility of our government to address strategic vulnerabilities in cyberspace and to ensure that the United States and the world can realize the full potential of the information technology revolution.
  • This responsibility transcends the jurisdictional purview of individual departments and agencies because, although each agency has a unique contribution to make, no single agency has a broad enough perspective to match the sweep of the challenges.
  • 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.
  • The national dialogue on cybersecurity must advance now. We need to explain the challenges and discuss what the Nation can do to solve problems in a way that the American people can appreciate the need for action.
  • The United States cannot succeed in securing cyberspace if our government works in isolation. Cyberspace knows no boundaries. There is a unique opportunity for the United States to work with countries around the world to make the digital infrastructure a safe and secure place that drives prosperity and innovation for all nations The Federal government cannot entirely delegate or abrogate its role in securing the nation from a cyber incident or accident.
  • The Federal government has the responsibility to protect and defend the country, and all levels of government have the responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens. The private sector, however, designs, builds, owns, and operates most of the digital infrastructures that government and private sector use in concert. The public and private sector’s interests are intertwined with a shared responsibility for ensuring a secure, reliable infrastructure upon which businesses and government services depend. Information is key to preventing, detecting, responding to and recovering from cyber incidents. Again, this requires evolving our partnerships together. Government and industry leaders, both here and abroad, need to delineate roles and responsibilities, balance capabilities, and take ownership of the problem to develop holistic solutions. Only through such partnerships will the United States be able to enhance cybersecurity and reap the full benefits of the digital revolution.
  • Building toward the architecture of the future requires research and development that focuses on game-changing technologies that could enhance the security, reliability, resilience and trustworthiness of our digital infrastructure. We need to be mindful of how we, government and industry together, can optimize our collective research and development dollars and work together to improve market incentives for secure and resilient hardware and software products, new security innovation, and secure managed services.
  • The White House must lead the way forward with leadership that draws upon the strength, advice and ideas of the entire nation.

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