How Private Sector Work Together to Improve Cybersecurity

Published November 1, 2023
by Jordan Hickam

Companies of all sizes and across industries can benefit from banding together and collaborating in various ways to improve their cybersecurity postures collectively. Private sector cybersecurity threats are complex, and their ever-evolving nature requires an attitude and culture of collaboration among like-minded partners. By working together, private sector organizations can leverage their combined knowledge, expertise, and resources to create a more resilient cybersecurity environment, protecting themselves and their customers from risk. Let’s explore three ways private sector companies can work together to achieve stronger cybersecurity for all.

Approach 1: Threat Intelligence Information Sharing & Joint Research

Organizations can share relevant information about threats, vulnerabilities, and incidents by establishing a trusted network or consortium. Through the collaboration of sharing real-time information about emerging threats, attack patterns, and indicators of compromise, companies can proactively stay ahead of potential cyberattacks and develop effective countermeasures. 

These information-sharing networks can be industry-specific or cross-sector, allowing companies to benefit from a broader range of insights and expertise while exchanging real-time threat intelligence and enhancing their ability to detect and respond to cyber threats. 

In the event of a breach or series of incidents across related organizations and industries, sharing information about the attack patterns, mitigation strategies, and recovery efforts can help others limit the cyberattack’s damage and speed up recovery efforts. Such knowledge sharing can help other organizations avoid common pitfalls and adopt proven strategies. Companies can learn from one another’s successes and failures, continuously improve their cybersecurity practices, and stay ahead of evolving threats.

Joint research and development projects represent another proactive avenue for collaboration. Companies can fund research initiatives or product development that advance their collective cybersecurity abilities, such as new encryption methods, intrusion detection techniques, or other innovative solutions. Working together, companies can leverage their collective expertise to create more robust and effective cybersecurity technologies, best practices, and infrastructure.

Approach 2: Collaboration on Best Practices & Advocacy Efforts

As companies expand their professional networks and connect with peers in their fields, they must work together to establish or follow accepted industry-wide cybersecurity standards and best practices. Collaboration is essential to ensure a consistent level of security across various companies, and it reduces vulnerabilities from inconsistent processes. Organizations can mitigate risk and effectively protect sensitive information by defining and implementing standardized cybersecurity measures. 

Cybersecurity frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, and CIS Critical Security Controls are widely accepted and serve as effective guidelines companies can adopt and tailor to their specific needs. They provide a structured approach to managing cybersecurity, identifying threats, and addressing vulnerabilities. By sharing some of their best practices for adhering to various frameworks, companies can benefit from each other’s expertise and collectively improve their cybersecurity posture.

Private sector companies also have the opportunity to collaborate on advocacy efforts to raise awareness about cybersecurity issues. Organizations can amplify their message and reach a wider audience by joining forces. This advocacy can help educate the public and other stakeholders about the importance of cybersecurity and the need for consistent practices.

Companies collectively have a more significant impact on policymakers and influence the development of effective cybersecurity regulations and standards. Governments often rely on input from the private sector to understand the challenges and implications of cybersecurity policies.

Private sector organizations’ joint engagement with government and regulatory bodies is crucial for ensuring that policies and regulations are well-informed and consider the rapidly evolving nature of cybersecurity threats. Actively participating in the development process, companies contribute to creating comprehensive and balanced frameworks that promote cybersecurity without imposing unnecessary burdens on businesses.

Approach 3: Joint Exercises, Training, & Vendor Assessment

Organizing simulated cyberattack exercises jointly with multiple organizations can be valuable to test and enhance cybersecurity preparedness. Through participating in joint exercises, companies can identify any gaps or weaknesses in their systems and improve their coordination with other organizations, which could be crucial in the face of an actual incident.

Similar or related organizations can pool their resources and expertise to provide their employees with comprehensive and up-to-date cybersecurity training and education. A collaborative approach ensures individuals across different departments and organizations are well-versed and prepared to handle various cybersecurity challenges.

For businesses that share or work with similar circles of third-party vendors, developing a common framework for evaluating their cybersecurity practices can be a beneficial experience to ensure each organization’s overall security. Third-party products and services can introduce potential vulnerabilities if the vendors’ cybersecurity practices are not up to par. By establishing a common framework, companies can assess and verify vendors’ security measures and protocols before integrating their products or services.

Improving cybersecurity through a collective, collaborative effort from private sector partners and even their competitors can enhance their cybersecurity maturity and contribute to a safer digital ecosystem. Sharing threat intelligence, exchanging best practices, and engaging in other mutually beneficial collaborative efforts will improve cybersecurity for all.

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