IMPACT OF BREXIT VOTE ON CYBER SECURITY: Private Sector Needs To Act Responsibly

June 25, 2016

While I don’t see, much if any, short term operational impacts to cyber security from the Brexit vote, I do think the vote underlines the need for the private sector develop strong partnerships to secure the cyber systems they own and operate independent from government structures.

I feel pretty sure not a single UK voter was thinking about cyber security when they went into the booth Thursday, but that doesn’t mean the vote to fundamentally alter the structure of our most important security partner will not impact policy, strategy and eventually operations maybe in ways we can’t foresee at the moment.

The Brexit vote demonstrates that even the most stable of governments may not be reliable partners due to macro-political forces that have nothing to do with cyber security.

Notwithstanding the bipartisan efforts that have been made in the U.S. to develop public private partnerships over the past decade, we are not immune from these factors here. While many have speculated, I don’t know anyone who feels they have a good understanding of what a Trump cyber security policy would be.

While the private sector obviously needs to continue to develop working partnerships with governments we also can, and need to, develop structures and partnerships that operate independent of governments subject to political whims.

There is both precedent for these private sector initiatives and evidence that they can be effective — maybe more effective than government based structures.

The Internet Security Alliance was created in 2000 — years before there even was a DHS — because a group of private sector entities believed that the private sector that owns and operates most of the Internet needed to organize and take responsibility for securing it.

In 2014 the National Association of Corporate Directors, working without any government involvement, published a cyber security handbook for corporate boards which is coupled with a training program for board members. In 2015 PwC independently assessed the impact of this program noting that it had resulted in budget increases averaging 24% for cyber security as well as better risk management, better alignment of security with business goals and creating a culture of security within entities using the Handbook.

I know of no similar documentation of the many high profile government base deprograms such as the C-cubed program or NIST Framework.

Its too early to know if other countries will follow the UK and leave the EU (I suspect there will be some) or what impact that has on the EU efforts on cyber security, how it may complicate needed international cooperation on cyber security, what delays, inconsistencies and added costs will be involved and many other issues. However we can be sure that there will be substantial volatility in the government space and the private sector needs to engage with government structures but would also be wise to take responsibility themselves and strengthen independent process to enhance cyber security.

– Larry Clinton, Internet Security Alliance President and CEO

The Internet Security Alliance combines the thought leadership of a think tank with the advocacy of a trade association and the programs of a professional association. Founded in 2001 in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, ISA has been out front on cyber security leadership for 15 years.