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Adrian Davis FT

Technology

#TEISS16: Firms overlooking benefits of information security collaboration

Firms are overlooking opportunities to collaborate on cyber security because the benefits are not made clear enough, according to an expert.

Adrian Davis1Speaking to Business Reporter ahead of The European Information Security Summit 2016, (ISC)2 managing director Adrian Davis said sharing data should be a top priority.

“These days collaboration is vitally important for any enterprise – especially those who are looking to produce globally appealing products,” he said.

But companies looking to collaborate must have safeguards in place when sharing what is often sensitive information about their information security defences.

“To collaborate most effectively, you may have to share your deepest, darkest secrets,” Davis said.

“What you need to do is introduce a mechanism of trust in the relationship and regularly assess how that trust is being kept. It’s more than keeping to the contract.”

Despite the risk, the consequences of not working together can be much worse for firms.

“There should be two things you bear in mind,” Davis said. “First, the bad guys are very good at collaboration. If we do not share our success and failures we are actually giving the bad guys a head start, as they can keep using their attacks without fear of failure.

“Second, we are only as strong as the defences our partners and suppliers have in place… We as a profession perhaps need to be more open about our successes and failures.”

More firms working together means more data to sift through, and Davis said this requires a new approach that takes into account more than the number of attacks.

“The first thing is that we need to talk about the context more,” he said. “We need to be able to tell a story about what is going on, rather than talking about the headline.

“We need to have rules for contextual information sharing as well as having those rules and processes for sharing the technical details of what is going on.”

For example, he explained, it would be much more useful to receive information about the exact times, methods and threat actors involved in attacks than a simple list of incidents.

Overall, Davis thinks the benefits of collaboration on security need to be better publicised.

“There is a real need for organisations to understand the benefits,” he concluded. “We all talk about sharing and how important it is, but we have not crystallised what the benefits are.

“If we can find a way of expressing those benefits, sharing will become a lot easier, and eventually a matter of routine.”


See Adrian Davis speak alongside other industry experts at The European Information Security Summit 2016, taking place next month at Etc 155 Bishopsgate in London.

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