A story posted online yesterday by The Wall Street Journal, quoting unnamed government sources, said that President Obama is expected to name Melissa Hathaway to head a new White House office of cybersecurity. “Ms. Hathaway helped develop a Bush administration cybersecurity initiative aimed at better securing federal systems and critical-infrastructure networks against online threats.
The first item Hathaway has been tasked with is conducting a government wide review of ongoing cybersecurity programs and developing recommendations for ensuring that they are aligned with government and private-sector needs. Hathaway is no stranger to cybersecurity. Hathaway was instrumental in building rapport between different government agencies involved in cybersecurity in her role as cyber coordination executive for the director of national intelligence. She chaired a multiagency group called the National Cyber Study Group that was instrumental in developing the Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative (CNCI), which was approved by former President George W. Bush early last year. Since then, she has been in charge of coordinating and monitoring the CNCI’s implementation.
Amit Yoran, a former director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division, said today that although Hathaway isn’t very well known outside of Washington, she is a “known entity” within the federal cybersecurity community. If the reports about Hathaway becoming Obama’s cybersecurity chief are correct, she will have “pretty strong leverage” to influence policy and bring together various government entities as part of the CNCI, Yoran said.