Strategies for cyber security

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Trust and transparency remains critical to incentives.

Devices connected to and by the internet will number between 16 and 50 billion by 2020, according to the European Commission.

They will be found everywhere: in freight management, surveillance, vending machines, smart meters and industrial processes to name a few.

Nigel Phair

But while the devices will help improve standards of living and address global challenges, a key question we must address is how to balance security and resilience with end user convenience.

Moreover, we must create a new legal definition of privacy in a world where communicating objects are likely to give the impression that they can substitute for human decision-making.

These two issues are interdependent and their development within future enterprise systems needs to be progressively moved from IT specialists to business experts.

We need to ensure the spread of devices introduces increased reliability, resilience, security and trust that will contribute to crime prevention and criminal justice.

Here cyber security and cyber crime responses are complementary.

Cyber security strategies should tie in with measures to fight cyber crime. They should relate to criminal justice rationale and be linked to broader crime prevention and criminal justice policies.

At its core, the strategies should balance technical controls with the needs of end users in a way that contributes to the rule of law and the promotion of human rights.

These cyber security strategies that protect vital information infrastructure like the internet should set succinct policy goals, measures and institutional responsibilities.

They are ultimately the responsibility of governments, but also depend on the private sector which owns and manages a large number of vital information infrastructures.

Yet markets do not always provide sufficient incentives for investment in cyber security. 

One of the reasons is the lack of trusted data on cyber security risks and their economic impact, which makes it difficult to assess the economic benefits of investments.  One way to address this would be to have a cyber crime reporting portal.

It is unclear how the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders are allocated along the digital value chain. This creates externalities when those investing in cyber security are not those who will benefit from the investment.

For example a device manufacturer may seek to create a product with inbuilt security features.  Retail market forces may not allow them to charge extra for such security, therefore dissuading them from investing in the R&D.

However the banking and finance industry may applaud such security design as it may reduce fraudulent transactions against them, therefore improving their bottom line without any additional investment.

It could also be argued that these security shortcomings are quite profitable for some industries which may try to sustain the status quo.  

Public sector incentives are required to help mitigate these problems. These incentives should target all industry participants – from end users to enterprises – and give priority to the likes of ISPs (the choke point for malware), the financial sector and software developers (who must build security into software).

It remains unclear what incentives should be introduced to encourage stakeholders to invest in cyber security and privacy at a level that satisfies public policy safety expectations.

Yet it is clear that trust and transparency remains critical to these incentives.

It is also clear that priority must be placed on improving cooperation in information exchange and coordination between industry and governments – on both the technical threats and the criminal implications arising from them.

Cyber security is not a simple issue, but it must be paired with cyber crime strategies to create the proper social and economic incentives that strengthen security, resilience and preparedness across the economy.

Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia


 
 
 
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