Deloitte: everything that depends on cyberspace is at risk

by Editor 4/30/2009 4:07:00 PM
Governments around the world need to address cybersecurity urgently in order to enable sustainable economic growth and mitigate the threat of disruption to government operations and commerce. According to the point of view “Cybersecurity: Everybody’s imperative. Protecting our economies, governments, and citizens,” published by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, everything that depends on cyberspace—from infrastructure to military operations and national security—is at risk.

“We need to act now to ensure the continued safety and security of a digital economy, our governments, and above all, our very nations,” said Greg Pellegrino, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Global Public Sector Industry Leader, and co-author of the point of view. “The stakes of not addressing cybersecurity now are high, and the risks of not doing it right are even higher. An inappropriate approach could foster isolation, the prospect of cyber-protectionism, and an inadequate balance between security and civil liberties," he added.

According to the report, an effective cybersecurity program would positively impact economies and governments around the world by encouraging global commerce and fostering better interaction between governments and those who are governed.

Cyber culture—fostered by the rapid growth of Internet enabled devices and machinery—is growing faster than cybersecurity, and it won’t slow down. Cyberspace, which began as an electronic add-on to other domains such as land or sea commerce, today is a domain unto itself. Private data, intellectual property, cyber infrastructure and even military and national security can be compromised by deliberate attacks, inadvertent security lapses, and the vulnerabilities of relatively immature, unregulated frontier—the global Internet.

A transnational solution to be addressed by public and private sector

“Governments around the world need to define the degree of international investment and cooperation between the public and private sectors to address this complex problem,” said Pellegrino. “The solution must be transnational and holistic, and it must involve more than technology.”

According to the Deloitte member firm subject matter experts interviewed for the point of view, governments must cooperate to set up uniform standards of protection around the world and partner with the private sector because most of the world’s online infrastructure is in corporate hands. Cybersecurity should also strike the right balance between security and civil liberties, educate and involve citizens to make them aware of the threats, and provide positive inducements to dissuade future cyber-criminals. Because of the crucial, strategic nature of the problem, the solution must involve top leadership in both governments and industry.

Incentives and accountability

The role of governments around the world in meeting this challenge is one of the issues raised in this report. The Deloitte specialists interviewed agree that the public sector should set standards that build better security and protection and should develop new laws on data privacy that align with the new reality. “Today’s cyber threat environment requires a sustained, strategic focus from a global perspective. Effective cybersecurity efforts will enhance global commerce, improve security of on-line transactions, increase protection of sensitive data, but more importantly, bolster trust, transparency and efficiency in government dealings with the private sector,” said co-author of the point of view Gary McAlum, retired Colonel U.S. Air Force, and Senior Manager, Security & Privacy Services, Deloitte & Touche, LLP.

However, those who don’t keep up with cybersecurity may not maintain a trusted relationship and, as a result, might find themselves isolated in an increasingly interdependent global economy, and give rise to a new cyber protectionism. Disparities in cyber risk management among countries can also affect trade: On the one hand, governments might deny potentially unsafe trading partners; on the other hand, some companies might get away from operating in overseas markets where they don’t feel their assets are protected.

“Governments must treat cybersecurity—and the changes in habits and lifestyle that go with it—as " whens," not "ifs." There's no question that we need to live with this. There’s no way back,” concluded Pellegrino.

For more information, view or download the full report, "Cybersecurity: Everbody's imperative."

For information on the recently released Obama cybersecurity report, visit "Securing cyberspace for the 44th presidency."

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