Why Competitors Should Collaborate More on Cyber Security Issues

Why Competitors Should Collaborate More on Cyber Security Issues
Image credit: Shutterstock

A decade or so ago firms would not disclose any cyber attacks unless compelled to by regulations for fear of decreasing their stock prices and spooking customers all the way to their rivals.

This type of an approach winds up doing far more harm than good as the pervasiveness and frequency of attacks continue to be commonplace. Just ask players in the retail sector where leaders like Target, Home Depot and TJ Maxx fell victim to very high-profile breaches.

Related: NSA Chief Warns Chinese Cyber Attacks Could Shut U.S. Infrastructure

What’s more, these activities aren’t limited to just the big fellows. Every organization is vulnerable to an attack. Some firms believe themselves to be too small to be viewed as worthy of effort by a virtual thief. The opposite is quite true. Smaller companies are often easier targets.

Thankfully, the idea of sharing best practices amongst rivals is becoming far more openly accepted. Doing so will bring about a united environment where everyone, including competitors, will join forces and resources to thwart the growing, sophisticated networks of professional cyber criminals. The ability to share information is key to mitigating "zero day" attacks, custom-developed or newly discovered exploits that have no available security defenses. 

One great example of this trend happened just last week, when Soltra, a new cyber security organization, was formed as a joint venture between two financial services groups to create a software program that shares information about security threats between more than 100 banks. This is akin to putting up quarantine stations that keep infected people from spreading a pandemic. It severely decreases the ability of the hackers to work undetected and steal massive amounts of information.

Related: 519 Million Reasons Why Your Financial Records Are in a Hacker's Hands

Other organizations have founded similar information-sharing repositories over the last five to eight years. These platforms typically have the following characteristics:

Access is very securely controlled and limited to only “need to know” people.

Sometimes access is prohibited. The only access allowed is in person at a terminal.

Access is limited to an industry group or subgroup with similar threats and business concerns regarding hackers.

The security of these systems themselves is key. Imagine if a hacker entered into a system and were able to determine all the flaws that had previously been discovered. It could shave man years of time off the hacker's quest to find another way in. 

It's difficult to stay ahead of the constantly evolving cyber threats in today’s world. Hackers are often more cunning and resourceful than the efforts applied to stop them. Effectively countering this pandemic will come about when industry players -- competitors and partners alike -- share data and solutions to the benefit of all.  

The resulting counterforce will leverage decades of expertise in a strategic and focused commitment to reversing the exponential trend of damaging cyber attacks. 

For the future I see more and more of these islands of information sharing appearing to deal with the exponentially increasing threat. 

Related: Is Your Company's Data Safe in the Cloud? (Infographic)