Cybersecurity Act Fails; What Next?

Hathaway Suggests 3 Steps President Obama Should Take
Now that Congress has failed to enact significant cybersecurity legislation, President Obama needs to find new ways to secure key government and business IT systems, says Melissa Hathaway, a former top White House cybersecurity adviser.

Comments from Hathaway, who led Obama's cyberspace policy review, came hours after the Senate failed on Aug. 2 to enact the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 [see Senate Votes to Block Cybersecurity Act].

In an interview with Information Security Media Group, Hathaway says Obama needs to:

  • Propose increased spending on IT security in future budgets;
  • Prompt independent regulatory agencies to toughen cybersecurity standards;
  • Ask business leaders to do more to secure their own IT systems.

Hathaway says Obama could turn to existing advisory panels such as the National Telecommunications Advisory Committee, Commission for Science and Technology and Committee on Advisers on Science and Technology to help win business support for new initiatives to safeguard key government and business IT systems.

"Alternatively," Hathaway says, "he could hold, by invitation, meetings with some of the key ICT (information communications and technology) industry leaders and/or key companies that have been breached and personally ask them to engage and help lead more of a national effort on behalf of the nation."

In the interview, Hathaway also explains there are too few days left on the legislative calendar for the Senate to reconsider cybersecurity legislation. In addition, she says Obama and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should address cybersecurity on the hustings.

Besides advising Obama during the first year of his administration, Hathaway also helped develop cybersecurity policy for President George W. Bush. She serves as a senior adviser at the Belfer Center of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and advises companies and governments on cybersecurity policy.

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