Obama orders cybersecurity review

Melissa Hathaway, former top cybersecurity advisor to the director of national intelligence under Bush, will carry out the review for the White House National Security and Homeland Security Councils.

Hathaway, who becomes acting senior director for cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils, will develop a strategic framework to ensure that cybersecurity initiatives are properly integrated and resourced.

"The national security and economic health of the United States depend on the security, stability, and integrity of our Nation’s cyberspace, both in the public and private sectors. The President is confident that we can protect our nation’s critical cyber infrastructure while at the same time adhering to the rule of law and safeguarding privacy rights and civil liberties," said Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security John Brennan.

Hathaway's appointment makes her a likely candidate for permanent 'cyberczar', in which she would oversee the federal Government's entire cybersecurity effort. This is a position that Obama has made clear he wants to create, and which was also recommended in a report on cybersecurity readiness in the Government undertaken by DC think tank the Center for Strategic Studies late last year.

The White House statement on the two-month cybersecurity review also called for Hathaway to ensure that cybersecurity efforts were properly co-ordinated with Congress and the private sector. The CSIS report criticised the former administration's complex dialogue with the private sector, calling for a streamlined partnership between public and private sectors to make the cybersecurity effort more effective. It also suggested that the current cybersecurity effort was fragmented, with no-one really in charge. It recommended wresting much of the cybersecurity effort away from the Department of Homeland Security, where it currently resides, and creating a new presidential office to oversee the whole effort.

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