Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 29th 2014 Contents Cyber attacks are on
the rise, targeting
agencies and even ordinary users.
With increasing sophistication
and impressive international co-
ordination, hacktivists, criminal
organisations and nation states are
using high-tech systems to com-
promise classified information and
steal consumer data.
In a technology-dependent world,
cyber-attacks are a serious, transna-
tional threat, putting national and
economic security at risk. No nation
can rely solely on inward-looking,
unilateral strategies to protect itself.
To defend against cyber attacks, col-
laboration is key.
Security has traditionally been
seen as the responsibility of national
governments, tackling clearly iden-
tified enemies on well-defined bat-
tlefields. In the digital age, transna-
tional cyber warfare has completely
A • www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG23
overturned that calculus.
In this new era, business is now on
the frontlines of conflict. The private sec-
tor controls the vast majority of the critical
infrastructure systems that underpin our
economy: from telecommunications and
financial services to energy and healthcare.
Critical infrastructure is a primary focal
point for cyber-attacks.
The effective security of critical infra-
structure is therefore a priority that goes
far beyond private sector interests, par-
ticularly in developing states. However,
there is no effective physical or economic
security without effective cyber security.
Cyber security depends on effective, global
collaboration between government and
industry. This is why private sector and
government must evolve new collaborative
approaches if they are to defend critical
national infrastructure assets.
The private and public sectors must
be co-ordinated in the planning and
implementation of cyber-security ini-
tiatives to protect physical, human and
economic assets. But it is not sufficient
for this co-ordination to take place simply
at the national level. Cyber attacks a
global phenomenon. Cyber security ini-
tiatives have to be equally transnational
in design and execution.
Cybercriminals are a clever, co-ordi-
nated and nimble bunch. They search
for and enter through soft-spots in infor-
mation systems. Their access can be via
entry points as simple as lax users or
weak network administration. Within
small businesses, or even in large organ-
isations, it is very hard to stop this hap-
New and increasingly sophisticated
threats are appearing all the time. Mean-
while, organisations and users still face
the same old problems: bank customers
still fall for mass phishing e-mails; gov-
ernment organisations still lose personal
data through employees clicking on sus-
pect links; and unsuspecting users still
download malicious software compro-
mising personal computers and corporate
At the root of the problem is the silo
mentality still prevalent among those
responsible for safeguarding information
systems and institutional reputation.
Organisations have vested interests in not
sharing, for fear of giving away compet-
itive advantage or damaging their rep-
utation. This myopia is causing efforts
to defend networks to be harder than
necessary and invaluable knowledge to
be kept inaccessible to those capable of
using it to design solutions and protect
against future threats.
The good news is that risks can be
minimised if attacks are understood and
addressed as quickly as criminals can
develop them. The best way to achieve
this is if companies, governments and
other organisations are more open about
security breaches and then work together
to address them via technological and
Talking openly about shared problems
is the most effective way to develop solu-
tions. A huge amount of useful knowledge
and experience exists within each sector.
If companies can learn from the mistakes
and successes of others then the whole
of that industry can improve its securi-
ty.The Caribbean Network Operators
Group, CaribNOG, has been advocating
for greater sharing of reports on network
security breeches and threats.
"The scale and scope of cyber attacks
is simply too great to be left to an indi-
vidual IT department, organisation or
even nation state. It is a global problem
and requires a collaborative solution," said
Stephen Lee, CaribNOG s programme
co-ordinator, adding, "By providing a
forum to share knowledge, we can col-
laboratively identify routes to solutions."
The stakes are high. Reducing the
impact of cybercrime is an issue busi-
nesses and governments will do well to
take very seriously, and collaborate on
the solutions most meaningful and rel-
Collaborating on cyber-security
A private-sector imperative
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