Global collaboration needed to mitigate cyber threats

The world has become increasingly connected. The use cases are endless, from the sublime —  fitting micro-sensors to thousands of bees in Tasmania to monitor their movements — to the ridiculous —  a Bluetooth toaster that sends you notifications when your toast is done to your desired level of crispness — everything is connected. The proliferation of connected devices has expanded the attack surface and it is critical for industry and governments to collaborate on eliminating blind spots, prioritising threats and reducing exposure, writes Jamie Brown.

Jamie Brown

The 2018 Global Business Risks report from the World Economic Forum ranks cyber attacks as the No. 3 global risk in terms of likelihood, behind extreme weather events and natural disasters. Though, this should come as no surprise given the daily headline-grabbing data breaches and widespread fears of nation-state attacks. In fact, it reflects the impact attacks such as Mirai, WannaCry and Stuxnet have had on our global psyche. The potential for a single cyberattack to breakdown critical infrastructure and halt networks poses a serious risk to our digital economy and way of life.

Cybersecurity is a global issue which demands a global approach. Because cyber threat actors operate across national borders, industry and governments should strive to pursue policy and technological partnerships. They must develop security strategies that address the new risks created by digital transformation.

By working together to establish strong cybersecurity technology partnerships, they can address today’s threat landscape and stand better prepared to handle future challenges. Case in point; earlier this year delegates from growing Australian cybersecurity businesses, in conjunction with leading officials from Austrade and Austcyber, embarked on a two-week cybersecurity roadshow to the USA. The purpose of this trip was to meet with US-based vendors and venture-capitalist firms to explore opportunities for technology partnerships and discuss the importance of the international ecosystem for cybersecurity. The 2019 RSA Conference provided further opportunities to discuss potential technology partnerships and provided a forum for industry and government officials to assess international cybersecurity policy development. Effective public-private partnerships, including those with international allies, will be vital to help protect Australia’s critical infrastructure.

Establishing global alliances

Combating cybercrime is already a core foreign policy issue and a central theme of Australia’s diplomatic efforts. The country was a founding member of Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance comprised of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The existence of the alliance itself was not disclosed until 2005.  The alliance is a medium to share information and it is through partnerships such as these that Australia and its allies can combat the global scourge of cybercrime.

Australia must continue to look to partner with international allies to ensure its cyber engagement advances security and economic interests, as well as its values. Working together to improve cyber practices at the baseline level and create flexible, outcome-oriented cybersecurity policies, ideally aligned with international, consensus-driven standards, will bolster the ability of industry and government to prevent the most advanced attacks. Importantly, global policy alignment can help to improve cyber hygiene while allowing for continued innovation.

Given that the cyber threat is so pervasive, it is imperative to align on policy and improve security across the board. Industry and governments have a responsibility to take firm action on cybersecurity. Where once cybersecurity risks impacted only IT and management teams, now it is being recognised as a fundamental business and national security issue, attracting the interest of the C-Suite and governments alike.

Jamie Brown is director of global government affairs at Tenable

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