Let’s break down silos in cybersecurity and cybercrime!

8 Dec 2016 17:30h - 19:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 11th Internet Governance Forum]

‘Someone said we don’t need to break down silos. We just need places to meet and discuss points.’

It is with this notion in mind that the organisers of ‘Let’s break down silos in cyber security and cybercrime!’ brought speakers from organisations that are successful in cooperating across silos, to share their best practices.

Inviting the speakers to reflect on the challenges they ran into and how they managed to make cooperation a success, moderator Mr Wout de Natris from De Natris Consult gathered ideas from around the room and from online participants.

One needs to realise that others may have a different perspective on the world we live in. Such an understanding is already a good start, one speaker commented.

The challenges are very common to any kind of collaboration. They include the need to establish trust, and to allow enough time for relations to develop, another speaker said. When funding is involved, someone needs to be willing to step forward and contribute financially. Budgets often factor in when cooperation is required on big projects. Yet, partnerships bring people together, and reduces the weight of funding.

Other speakers referred to projects which employ volunteers from every sector. Trust is the ‘glue’ that binds them together, many commented.

One option for bringing down barriers is to start with small groups. Special interest groups, for example, bring a small group of people to solve one specific problem. It becomes easier to build trust within such a small setting.

How can silos be bridged when exchange of information – which some are unwilling to share – is involved? Typically, for example, companies are unwilling to share information about breaches. At the same time, there can be a commercial advantage from knowing another company’s vulnerabilities. Even if a problem is fixed, companies are legitimately concerned about damaging their reputation. A similar situation arises where the private sector and the governments are required to cooperate on cybersecurity issues.

A barrier is easier to overcome when stakeholders realise there is a common problem. Such was the case with child sexual abuse material. One of the reasons for efficiency in multistakeholder cooperation in bridging groups, another speaker said, is taking the time to find common framing. A shared vision is a prerequisite.

At the same time, coming to an understanding about a common problem is more difficult when competition, concern about turfs, or concern about resources and money, is involved.

Participants spoke at length about the cooperation among industry and government. ‘Stimulate where you need, regulate where you must’ is a common notion that encourages cooperation.

Other suggestions on bringing down barriers included: establishing protocols where cooperation is required; resolving issues of trust and recognition; learning how to share information, and foster such exchange; creating value for people to take part; ensuring transparency, openness, and integrity throughout the process; spreading awareness about the community that stakeholder groups are trying to build; and encouraging neutral bodies between organisations that need to work together.

by Dr Stephanie Borg Psaila