All eyes in the Washington D.C. security and intelligence communities are riveted on Melissa Hathaway. Tech company executives, military leaders, lawmakers and senior White House officials who track cybersecurity matters are anxious to find out what the bright, young management consultant will advise President Obama to do about making the Internet safer.
“Protecting the public Internet … is a vital part of protecting America’s national security,” says Mike McCurry, co-chair of Arts+Labs, a lobbying group formed last September by Viacom, NBC Universal, AT&T, Microsoft, Cisco and the Songwriters Guild of America. "Cybercrime cost businesses an estimated $1 trillion worldwide in 2008, and some security experts believe the threat may be so bad that we may need to re-think our entire approach to the Internet."
At the moment, Hathaway, 40, has her hands on the fulcrum. She appears to be more than up to the task. In 15 years rising through the ranks at Booz Allen Hamilton’s Virginia office, she displayed a knack for lowering barriers between "stove-piped" military and intelligence organizations, says Booz Allen Senior Vice President Mark Gerencser, one of Hathaway’s superiors. Hathaway took to the emerging field of "info ops" — information warfare, including cyber raids and cyber defenses — like a fish to water.
"We were doing things to support information operations for the Army, Navy, the CIA and others, and her role was to integrate our collective thinking to benefit the clients," says Gerencser. "She was an integrator. She knew where all the synergies were." [...]