Strengthening cybersecurity through collaboration

With the volume and sophistication of cyberthreats growing all the time, organisations need to work together if they are to defeat them successfully

By Tim Ferguson

Thu 15 Nov 2018 @ 16:35

With any challenging situation, working with others to achieve a shared goal is better than striking out alone. And the same applies to cybersecurity.

If businesses and other organisations are going to counter the growing threat posed by cybercriminals, collaboration can only be beneficial. And it seems that, increasingly, different organisations are taking the initiative in driving the collaboration needed.

In April, 35 signatories from the technology industry – including ARM, Cisco, Facebook and Microsoft – promised not to help governments conduct cyberattacks and to tackle the exploitation of technology products for nefarious means during their development.

In July, defence technology specialist BAE Systems published a manifesto proposing a major change to the approach to cybersecurity threats, calling for a collaborative taskforce to tackle cybercrime. BAE Systems Applied Intelligence managing director Julian Cracknell stated that the company advocates “a move from passive, isolated cyber defence to institutionalised, active collaboration and learning that spans organisations, industries and countries”.

The Intelligence Network proposed by BAE, which was the result of conversations with technology businesses and cybersecurity analysts, has three pillars: Collaboration (including the sharing of information between organisations about breaches), changing how organisations react to cyberattacks (through gamification and incentives, for example) and widespread transparency (to take understanding beyond specialists and to create a degree of readiness for attacks).

Four universities based in and around Manchester, are working together to protect small and medium-sized businesses in Greater Manchester against cyberattacks. The £6m GM Cyber Foundry will combine the cybersecurity expertise and research of the universities to create new products and services and more efficient management of cybersecurity research.

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum created the Global Cyber Centre in Geneva as a place for governments, international businesses, cyber experts and law enforcement agencies to work together to address key questions around how organisations should evolve their cybersecurity strategy and procedures and how to increase awareness and skills among staff.

All of these initiatives, which are by no means the only ones, share the same philosophy: Working together will improve the chances of organisations against the cyberthreats they face.

The more data that organisations have at their disposal – such as advance warnings of imminent threats or information about where malware comes from – the more effective their cyber strategy will be. It will help put the right technologies and processes in place and arm staff with the tools they need to proactively protect their organisations.

As well as working across industries and with academic institutions, businesses should also look at how they can collaborate with cybersecurity vendors to bolster their defences against cyberthreats. Whether it’s by introducing new technology to stop and contain threats as soon as possible, or by helping with the development of new tools, working collectively can bring useful benefits.

In addition, some security vendors can act as an extension of your SOC. This could be simply answering questions or helping security teams better understand the data they are working with. Or it could be providing analysts to spend time working as part of a customer’s security team to provide the badly-needed skills or make up for overstretched resources.

Collaboration is a key part of the toolkit that will protect organisations in an ever-changing and fast-moving cyberthreat environment. As organisations that have dealt with breaches on their own have found to their cost, to fight alone is a losing battle.