Melissa Hathaway speaks at Intelligence and National Security Alliance

INSA, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, is a group of professionals from academia, industry and government who seek to enhance innovation, discussion, debate and progress on key national security issues.  I've been involved as a member for years and get the pleasure of interacting with folks from a wide swath of the community.

One of the many services INSA provides the community is providing a venue for speakers and community leaders to interact.  INSA did that again just last night when their Distinguished Speaker Series featured Melissa Hathaway.  Melissa, who I have previously called the most effective and efficient senior executive in government today, spoke on the topic  of the White House Cyber Security 60-day review.

I watched Melissa's RSA presentation, and for those who did or for those who have been engaged with her during this review, last nights presentation was in consonance with what we know of the hard task she has been working on (if you haven't watched it yet, I'd recommend you take a look now, at: )

A couple thoughts from a CTO perspective:

  • Like so many other problems, tackling this one requires both a knowledge of technology and of people. Both technology and people must be influenced.

  • When it comes to people, Melissa mentioned the book  Influencer: The Power to Change Anything .  I haven't read it yet, but have just added it to my Amazon wish list and will be getting it soon. Melissa said the authors of the "Influencer" book say there is power in everyone to make a change and therefore everyone should get engaged, and in this cyber context she asked everyone at INSA to stay engaged.  She wants folks to continue to dive in and stay involved and form views and move out.

  • One of the most important ways the federal government influences is through law.  Our great government flows from a great Constitution and, although it was not a civics lesson last night, Melissa did mention the incredible legal review that these many cyber issues have been through.  She said over 80 significant legal issues were reviewed.  The report, when it is released, will have a 150 page legal annex that captures some of the opinion of federal legal experts from across the government.   As for me, I intend on reading every page of the report, and will pay particular attention to this legal section.

  • Now that I've had time to think about what Melissa said, I think we (the nation, and we humans everywhere) are going to need more work to be done on how we influence technology.   I've tried hard to think through this from a security perspective, and I know there are things we can do right now to improve things in this regard (and I've provided papers to Melissa's study team on a couple significant constructs like enhancing security through smart use of cloud computing and through smart use of open source).  But there is still much much more work to be done in this area.   CTOs cannot rest on this topic, yet.  In fact, I am not comfortable with the state of technology leadership in this area and I think all of us technologists need to follow Melissa's advice.  We all need to get engaged and get a view and move out.

Part of the event last night was a networking reception where INSA members from academia, industry and government could chat.  The gist of the conversations confirmed what I have long thought, everyone wants Melissa to succeed and a wide swath of people are lining up to follow her lead.  She has done a great job at building a broad team and we are all looking forward to her continued leadership on things cyber.

For more on this topic see:

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Bob Gourley

Founder and CTO at Crucial Point LLC
Bob Gourley is the founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC where he leads technology due diligence consulting. He is the publisher of and Bob's background is as an all source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley
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About Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley is the founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC where he leads technology due diligence consulting. He is the publisher of and Bob's background is as an all source intelligence analyst and an enterprise CTO. Find him on Twitter at @BobGourley


  1. Les Young says:

    I also attended Melissa's presentation. Key to the solution are issues such as accountability for perforomance (or lack thereof) at both the Government and contractor levels, and IT acquisition reform that places the emphasis on solutions and not on staffing levels. As long as both Government and industry managers are rewarded for the size of their organization and not on the benefits of their solutions, the best solutions may not be implemented.

    • Les,

      Thanks much for the comments. I have to agree. The commercial sector, for the most part, does what it is incentivized to do. This is especially true when it comes to the defense integrators.


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