Embracing Global Public/Private Cybersecurity Alliances

July 13, 2016  |  Chuck Brooks

In an increasingly connected world, threats of cyber-attacks are growing in complexity and volume. As we have discovered in the past few years, much of the global critical infrastructure is using aging legacy systems and is largely unprotected against sophisticated breaches. The world’s critical infrastructure, that includes the health, financial, commerce, and transportation sectors, needs better cybersecurity protection.

Because of the rapidly changing cyber threat environment, it has become an imperative for governments, and industry to collaborate and cooperate. To best prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from cyber incidents, we must include a new cooperative paradigm. The new global model should include information sharing, cooperative research, development and rapid deployment, and enhanced cybersecurity alliances.

Information Sharing:

Information is a first step. In the past couple of years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with Congressional and private sector support has developed guidelines for information sharing among several sectors with industry. Information sharing helps allow both government and industry to keep abreast of the latest viruses, malware, phishing threats, and especially denial of service attacks. Information sharing also establishes working protocols for resilience and forensics that is critical for the success of commerce and enforcement against cyber-crimes.

Both the US and EU have reached out in recent years to the private sector to establish priorities, protocols for information sharing, and lines of communication to respond to potential incidents. The fact is that 85% of the World Wide Web and most of the world’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by private sector companies. Many of the recent cyber breach attacks against multi-nationals have been successful, including in banking, health, and retail that impacts the economic system and citizens around the globe.

Cooperative Research, Development and Rapid Deployment:

Keeping up with cybersecurity threats is often daunting and requires a holistic effort. There are a wide variety of architectures, systems, and jurisdictions and adaptability and scalability to upgrade to new security technologies and processes is a significant challenge.

While there is an array of promising technologies being developed, there are is no immediate technological panacea to stop intrusion. But there are promising technologies that include better encryption, biometrics, smarter analytics, automated network security. Informed risk management planning, training, network monitoring, and incorporating Next Gen layered hardware/software technologies for the enterprise network, payload, and endpoint security. All of these are all components of what can be improved via cooperative efforts in research, development, and deployment efforts.

A closer partnership between governments and the private sector could help produce tactical and long-term strategic cybersecurity solutions quicker. Cooperative research and development in new technologies such as hardware, software algorithms and operational processes are needed just to keep up with the evolving global threat matrix. There are no areas on the cybersecurity spectrum that do not need more investment and modernization to help fill capability gaps.

Enhanced Cybersecurity Alliances:

Currently, there are few established international norms to collectively combat cybercrime against critical infrastructures on the global scale. There is a need to include governments and industries to discuss scenarios and establish protocols for policy and action in regard to the evolving threat matrix and the potential spiraling effects of cybersecurity incidents.

The United States has made a concerted effort to establish allied cybersecurity alliances that include informational sharing and technological development in recent years. Some of these bilateral efforts include creating advanced working partnerships with the UK, Israel, India, Canada, Germany, Estonia, and others.

It is smart to utilize the collective talent and research and development arms of allied countries. Public to Private sector cooperation should be an integral part of alliances. Just a few weeks ago, Britain's top spy agency, GCHQ, disclosed two software vulnerabilities to Apple that could corrupt memory or leave devices vulnerable to botnets.

Cooperation need not only be in information sharing and technology areas but also in internet freedom/human rights, governance, cybercrime, international security, and privacy. These latter topics also require engagement with non-allied countries such as Russia, China, and many others. Embracing Global Public/Private Cybersecurity Alliances is a positive step in making us all safer.

About the Author

Chuck Brooks serves as the Vice President for Government Relations and Marketing at Sutherland Government Solutions. He is also Vice Chairman of CompTIA's New and Emerging Technologies Committee and on the advisory board of several companies and organizations. .Brooks served at the Department of Homeland Security as the first director of legislative affairs for the Science and Technology Directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a senior adviser to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.). He has an MA from the University of Chicago and a BA from DePauw University. Please follow him on Twitter @ChuckDBrooks and on LinkedIn.

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