Cyber Security at the World Economic Forum


Francis Maude, minister for cyber security at the Cabinet Office, is participating in a number of events at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, aimed at bringing industry and governments together to tackle the global issue of cyber resilience and security. During his speech he discussed the transformative National Cyber Security Programme which is being put in to place and the secure online site Cyber-security Information Sharing Partnership as part of the plans.

Commenting on the proposed plans Rashmi Knowles CISSP, the Chief Security Architect, for RSA EMEA discussed some of the points that need to be considered to ensure this is managed carefully:

The Government’s national security strategy is a big step in the right direction in the battle against cyber-crime, but this latest update to provide a platform to share details of attacks will need to be managed carefully.

Finding the resources to manage this is hard and it also difficult to share details of cyber-attacks due to the confidential nature of the information. Businesses may be deterred by fears that their reputation will be left in tatters and competitors will profit as a result. Likewise, government agencies are restricted by data classification requirements and concerns that national-security will be jeopardised. 

The challenge is designing a way to deliver cyber-attack indicators. Creating a system that enables the distribution of confidential data to the broadest amount of people in a short amount of time and in a form that they can be interpreted is no easy task. Another difficulty is that the lifespan of a typical attack signature is short and once the attackers detect that it has been shared, they immediately stop using it so sharing mechanisms will need to be in real-time.

Finally, since the vast majority of critical infrastructure is owned by private organisations, I would advise that there needs to be a broader base of participation, including in the financial services, energy and utilities for example and there needs to be an incentive.

Here are the key ingredients for a successful exchange entity:

  • Trust among participants
  • A formalised structure (including charter, board members, leadership, and professional staff)
  • Adequate funding through government and/or membership fees
  • Established protocol and clear rules for information sharing
  • A legal framework in which to share confidential information (NDA, government safe harbor)
  • Standardised and reliable procedures for anonymising the confidential information distributed
  • Streamlined mechanisms for submitting and distributing information (secure portal, encrypted email, and/or digitally signed machine readable data)
  • Genuine participation through committed representatives and actual data contribution

Rashmi Knowles CISSP, the Chief Security Architect, for RSA EMEA

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