By Enoma Odia, CISSP, ISSMP, CSSLP
In Part One of this blog, I explained how Sector-wide Integrated Cyber Defense Approach (SICDA) is intended to function, the challenges of this process, as well as some root causes to be addressed to mitigate those challenges.
To overcome existing limitations in individual cybersecurity efforts, consider the adoption of a collective and cooperative model inspired by the strategies employed in conventional warfare, where allies unite for robust defense against adversaries. This model, known as the Sector-wide Integrated Cyber Defense Approach (SICDA), takes a holistic and integrated approach towards fortifying cybersecurity resilience.
SICDA envisions fostering a united front by rallying organizations within the same industry sector or geographical location. Rather than operating in isolation, these organizations, under the umbrella of Accountable Cybersecurity Organizations (ACOs), would unite their cybersecurity efforts, sharing insights, resources, and strategies. This collaborative model would significantly enhance the sector's resilience against cyber threats by leveraging the collective intelligence, resources, and cyber defenses of all participating entities.
By integrating and streamlining existing cybersecurity frameworks into this cooperative model, SICDA aims to deliver an active, sector-wide defense mechanism against cyber threats. This approach encourages synergy and cooperation, minimizes duplication of efforts, and provides for an agile and responsive cybersecurity infrastructure capable of withstanding evolving threats.
Furthermore, under SICDA, Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) can provide crucial support to ACOs by offering comprehensive, sector-wide cybersecurity services. This not only brings in their niche expertise but also leads to a more optimized and efficient security program, which can adapt to the evolving landscape of cyber threats.
Ultimately, SICDA brings a seismic shift in the way cybersecurity is approached - moving from individualized defenses to a united, coordinated, and sector-specific defense approach. It promises to transform the cybersecurity landscape by encouraging collaboration, accountability, efficiency, and resilience, ensuring that the entire sector is well fortified against the incessant tide of cyber threats.
How does SICDA Address Identified Gaps and Root Causes?
- Competition and Proprietary Interests: By fostering a cooperative environment where all participants stand to benefit from shared insights and resources, SICDA discourages isolationist competition. The shared goal of enhanced cybersecurity acts as a unifying factor that overcomes the reluctance to share strategic information.
- Common Standards and Frameworks: SICDA aims to provide a common framework for cybersecurity collaboration, facilitating interoperability, and consistent strategies across different organizations.
- Regulatory Constraints and Trust: The collaboration under SICDA would adhere to legal and regulatory guidelines while promoting trust among organizations through transparent and accountable practices. Shared responsibility and joint action can help to alleviate concerns over privacy and trust.
- Resources and Capabilities: By allowing for shared resources and collective action, SICDA can help overcome resource constraints, especially for smaller organizations. This collaborative approach leads to cost efficiency and a more substantial combined capability.
- Collaborative Culture and Misaligned Incentives: SICDA encourages a culture of collaboration, with aligned incentives that promote collective defense. When the sector as a whole is more resilient to cyber threats, all participating entities benefit, which is a powerful incentive for collaboration.
- Inadequate Role of ISACs: SICDA strengthens the role of Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), allowing them to serve as effective platforms for collaboration. ISACs, under SICDA, will be better resourced and motivated to fulfill their roles as cybersecurity information hubs.
Roles And Responsibilities
In the SICDA framework, understanding of roles and responsibilities among stakeholders is of utmost importance for efficient collaborative functioning. The proposed model positions specific entities in critical roles:
- Accountable Cybersecurity Organizations (ACOs): Taking center stage in this model, ACOs are responsible for propelling the cybersecurity initiatives in the sector. As key drivers of the SICDA model, their role mirrors that of MasterCard and Visa in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Their tasks span from setting cybersecurity defenses to establishing standardized cybersecurity practices. Actively participating in collaborative initiatives, sharing proven strategies, and ensuring compliance with industry-wide cybersecurity norms are the pillars of their function. With a lead-by-example approach, ACOs are charged with instilling and fostering cybersecurity resilience across the sector.
- Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs): Specialized in providing cybersecurity services, MSSPs play an integral role in boosting the cybersecurity capacity of ACOs and other organizations within the sector. With their extensive expertise, robust resources, and state-of-the-art tools, MSSPs amplify the sector's cybersecurity capabilities within the SICDA framework. Offering services like threat monitoring, incident response, vulnerability management, and security consulting, they fortify an organization's cyber defense mechanisms, thus transforming them into impregnable cyber fortresses.
- Cybersecurity Learning Systems: These systems are instrumental in nurturing a continual learning environment. By providing ongoing training, workshops, and resources, they keep ACOs, MSSPs, and other stakeholders abreast of the latest in cybersecurity practices, burgeoning threats, and evolving incident response techniques. These systems are built on a culture of relentless learning and improvement, thereby enabling organizations to stay ahead of the cybersecurity curve and establish a formidable defense line against cyber threats.
- Government: Acting as a key support system, the government's role in the SICDA model is multifaceted. Its responsibilities range from endorsing and supervising the SICDA implementation to crafting relevant policy frameworks that ensure the adherence to sector-wide cybersecurity standards. The government's role also includes introducing regulations, designating resources, and promoting public-private partnerships to create an environment conducive to cybersecurity collaboration. This active role empowers the sector to tackle emerging cyber threats collectively and efficiently.
- Existing Information Security Sharing Centers: Serving as crucial hubs for information exchange and collaboration, these centers function as cybersecurity intelligence storehouses, offering access to best practices and valuable incident response experiences. They are essential in sharing timely threat intelligence, alerts, and strategies for incident mitigation. By accessing these centers, organizations can boost their situational awareness and collectively draw upon a wide range of expertise to effectively defend against cyber threats.
To guarantee a successful deployment of these roles and responsibilities, seamless communication, stakeholder involvement, and persistent collaboration are imperative. Regular meetings, dedicated sharing platforms, and well-defined governance structures will ensure coordinated action, information dissemination, and shared accountability within the SICDA framework.
In conclusion, as the complexity of cyber threats escalates, it is becoming increasingly evident that traditional, siloed approaches to cybersecurity are inadequate. Therefore, we must shift towards a more proactive, integrated strategy that prioritizes collaboration and collective action. The Sector-wide Integrated Cyber Defense Approach (SICDA) is proposed as a transformative solution to address this imperative.
SICDA envisions a cybersecurity paradigm where organizations within similar sectors or geographical boundaries unite their cybersecurity efforts, facilitated by Accountable Cybersecurity Organizations (ACOs) and bolstered by Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs). This model aims to foster collaboration and information sharing, thereby enhancing the sector's collective resilience and providing a robust defense against evolving cyber threats.
The implementation of SICDA, however, requires a significant commitment from all stakeholders. The complexities of this approach should not be underestimated, but neither should the potential benefits be overlooked. In view of the escalating cybersecurity threats, an integrated, collaborative approach like SICDA could significantly strengthen our cyber defense capabilities.