Cybersecurity needs a resilient transatlantic frontier


Major ransomware attacks like WannaCry, NotPetya, Ethereum and the Equifax security breach have shown with certainty that the West’s current approach to cybersecurity is not up to scratch.

But in a day and age where companies and individuals cannot realistically be expected to defend themselves against cybercriminals, government intervention is expected; and a transatlantic frontier against hackers in Russia and China is considered the best collective defence against cyberattacks.

Our online world is growing – simply look at the number of new applications, data and technological domains we have access to, and the exponential rate at which they appear to be expanding. And while the cyberworld may provide us with a range of benefits and societal advancement we could only have dreamt of years ago, it leverages its own risks, specifically with regards to matters pertaining to security and privacy.

It is a classic case of “two steps forward, one step back” as cybersecurity measures and cybercriminals go head-to-head in an online arms race. Hacking methods have matched the pace of security forces and technological developments – even surpassing it in some instances – resulting in the numerous data breaches we have experienced in the past.

Keith Alexander, the chief executive of IronNet Cybersecurity and former director of the National Security Agency, believes that there are only two types of companies: those who have been hacked and are aware, and those who have been hacked and have no idea. If the hacking is inevitable from individuals with state-like capabilities, and private companies are armed with old-fashioned technologies and a restrain on resources, it is clear that external intervention is necessary.

Countries like Russia, Iran, China and North Korea, with their relaxed approaches to diplomacy and aggressive intentions, have the potential to undermine the democratic institutions of the West and subsequently our economies. This puts us in precarious global situations which can only be counteracted with a united front of technology and information shared amongst nations.

It is inane to assume that if large corporations cannot protect themselves from a physical attack without government support, they can certainly do so from a cyber perspective. This is where Alexander is firm that a transatlantic alliance is a required solution.

“We must operate at the same speed and scale as our opponents, sharing information in real time across public and private sectors and among nations. We must also create a common defence picture of the global cyber threat environment, much as we created a common air defence picture across all of Europe after the cold war,” he states.

And with NATO showing us the power of an alliance, we need to consider what shared behavioural-based analysis, machine-learning and artificial intelligence can do to protect ourselves from common cybercriminals and online threats.

After all, as Alexander so aptly concludes: “One cannot easily defend against what one cannot see.”

About Lee Hazell

Lee Hazell is a cyber security consultant with a keen interest in anything tech or security related. Follow Lee on .

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