Can collaboration save us from cyber attacks?

By Tim Larkins, director of Market Intelligence

By 2020, businesses will experience $3 trillion in economic loss due to cyber attacks globally. Seventy-four percent of the world’s businesses expect to be hacked this year. If that’s not a crisis, I don’t know what is.

If you were one of 45,000 people who attended the RSA conference last month in San Francisco, you likely picked up on a few common themes related to this cyber crisis. Thought leaders and industry experts seemed to agree that we need more collaboration between companies, governments and associations in developing standards, policies and regulations for both cybersecurity and the internet of things.  We need more threat intelligence sharing, and some even advocated for creating an entire government agency dedicated to cybersecurity and IoT.

Lots of ideas were bandied about during keynotes, break-out sessions and hours of networking. Here are three major themes that stuck out for me:

  1. Government needs to step up to the plate

The cyber attack on the DNC during the US presidential election not only changed the course of the race but also the discourse around cyber. The problem is not just the initial attack, but also the after effects.

So how do we fix it? To start, creating a new governmental body focused on solutions and policies for information sharing will improve everyone’s ability to start singing from the same sheet of music. And in response, industry solutions need to be holistic whether protecting cars, phones, drones or refrigerators.

The rapid advancement of technology and the growth in volume of both connected devices and amount of data are presenting huge opportunities for all types of hardware and software companies – but also opening up more vulnerabilities and challenges than ever. Federal, state and local governments need to start working on changing funding and procurement, as well as establishing proactive precautions and reactive punishments to regulate and secure IoT.

Right now there’s a hodgepodge of policies and rules. A handful of federal agencies are creating guidelines in their own silos but nothing is being done comprehensively. Establishing a regulatory agency could help – and there’s precedence for it. At one point radio was an innovative technology.  And then we created a government agency to regulate it. The same was true for airplanes, railroads and nuclear power.  These new technologies all needed controls, thus new agencies were created.

  1. Call on the world’s governments to work together

Microsoft president and CEO Brad Smith addressed the global threat best when he said the uprising of nation states as threat actors are the biggest threat to all of us – and cyberspace is the new battlefield. The world’s governments are not keeping up with nation states’ attacks on citizens, so it’s up to industry to figure out what we’re going to do about it.

Brad says the tech industry needs to call on the world’s governments to come together like they did in 1949 to create the Geneva Convention. Just as there was agreement on how countries should behave in times of war, there need to be rules on how nations behave in times of peace.

  1. Industry also needs to collaborate

There’s a huge need for better collaboration between companies, especially when it comes to information sharing, threat intelligence and best practices.

The private sector should be an integral part of policy writing and we have a huge opportunity for more collaboration and education. Programmers have been given freedom to program what and how they want and that’s fine, but with IoT, there are too many possibilities that can cause problems without regulation. However, regulators can’t write policy in a vacuum. We need collaboration between technologists and government to make sure the right policies are in place.

The RSA conference was created to help industry collaborate in order to find the best ways to deal with chaos and move forward. There’s no better time than now to start shaping the next wave of human advancement.

To learn more about how cybersecurity and IoT are taking shape, reach out to immixGroup’s Market Intelligence team.

About Tim Larkins
Tim Larkins is Director of immixGroup's Market Intelligence Team. He has 11 years of experience in business development, management, consulting, and market intelligence helping clients with budget analysis, market trends, and opportunity identification. Tim received a Bachelor's Degree from Furman University and an MBA from Benedictine University.

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