Cybersecurity report coming soon

 White House officials plan to publicly release the findings of the Obama administration’s review of cybersecurity policy in the coming days, according to the administration official who led that review.

Melissa Hathaway, acting senior director for cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security councils, said in an April 30 speech to the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) that the soon-to-be released report would, as expected, include recommendations for a White House organizational structure to deal with cyber threats and an action plan to guide future efforts.

Hathaway said the review represented “the beginning of the beginning,” reiterating previous statements that the effort to secure cyberspace would be an ongoing.

Hathaway said the H1N1 flu response had delayed the public release of the review’s full findings.

Hathaway's team completed the 60-day review April 17 after reviewing relevant presidential policy directives, executive orders, national strategies, as well as taking input from agencies, industry, academia, the civil liberties and privacy communities, state and international governments, and the legislative branch.

INSA, a professional association, was one of the organizations that gave input to the administration during the review, including a recommendation that the Obama administration create a single position at the White House level to align policy, laws and resources for cybersecurity. Hathaway thanked the organization for its input during her speech.

In anticipation of the report's release, there has been a lot of speculation on how President Barack Obama will decide to structure the White House’s effort to deal with the cyber threat and whether he will create a new office in the Executive Office of the President to handle coordination of cybersecurity programs. Two bills recently introduced in the Senate call for the creation of such an office. 

Although Hathaway didn’t say what the organizational structure of the White House would be, she made it clear that she believes the White House needs to take a leadership role in coordinating cybersecurity efforts and said the cybersecurity responsibility doesn’t rest with any single agency. She also said the government isn’t properly organized to deal with the problem and that it needs to be dealt with immediately.

“Our moment is fleeting and we can not afford to let it to escape us,” Hathaway said.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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