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CybersecurityU.S. should emulate allies in pushing for public-private cybersecurity collaboration

Published 13 October 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last month the formation of a national cyber defense authority to defend civilian networks under the leadership of the Israel National Cyber Bureau.The “U.S. government has a lot to learn from successful examples in allied nations. With more compromise and reform, there is plenty of reason for hope,” says a cybersecurity expert, adding that “a cybersecurity partnership between government, business, and individuals built on trust is possible, and would promote more resilient networks as well as creative thinking on cybersecurity.”

The first federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) dedicated to cybersecurity, located in Montgomery County, Maryland, is part of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, and it is expected to help the greater Washington, D.C. area gain more ground as an economic development hub for cybersecurity.

As more private sector firms become victims of cyberattacks, more companies are looking for software that fortifies their network systems. Target, JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Citigroup, and Neiman Marcus are just a few industry leading firms which have had their systems breached. TheWashington Post reportsthat Jim Dinegar, president and chief executive of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, is looking to leverage the region’s proximity to the nation’s top defense and intelligence agencies, including the United States Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland, to get cybersecurity innovators in the private and public sectors to collaborate in the region.

“The timing is right for various stakeholders to collaborate because they all see a need and they’re all scared of the implications of security breaches and data breaches,” said Joseph Jaja, a professor of computer and electrical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park.

One of the challenges in developing cybersecurity solutions for the private sector is that many companies refuse to share information about the threats they face, and the government has yet to designate a federal agency to investigate cyber threats within the private sector. “That’s not an easy task, I realize this,” Jaja said. “But unless we come together and try to develop a set of best practices and shared experiences, we really won’t have an effective solution.”

According to Forbes, some cyber experts are calling for the creation of a cyber defense agency to defend the country’s private sector networks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last month the formation of a national cyber defense authority to defend civilian networks under the leadership of the Israel National Cyber Bureau. The “U.S. government has a lot to learn from successful examples in allied nations. With more compromise and reform, there is plenty of reason for hope,” said Matthew Rhoades, director of the Cyberspace and Security Program at the Truman National Security Project. Rhoades believes that “a cybersecurity partnership between government, business, and individuals built on trust is possible, and would promote more resilient networks as well as creative thinking on cybersecurity.”

For now, many cybersecurity professionals are looking to the cyber FFRDC as the next step towards the formation of a cyber agency tasked with building trust and collaboration among private and public sector institutions. “Its creation would help fill the deep gap that currently exists between public and private sector cybersecurity efforts by funding joint research to catalyze creative solutions to ever-changing cyber threats,” said Eli Sugarman, a senior director at Washington, D.C.-based Gryphon Partners.