The future of a healthy cyber ecosystem will rely less on offense than defense, much like the human immune system.
“You have the ability to start taking actions like building antibodies even before you realize that you’re sick,” said Greg Schaffer, assistant secretary in the office of cybersecurity and communications at the Homeland Security Department.
This ecosystem – consisting of governments, the private sector, individuals and cyber devices – will be able to anticipate attacks in “near real-time,” minimize the consequences of an attack and recover to a “trusted state,” Schaffer said.
What the cyber environment should look like is outlined in a DHS white paper released last month.
But the current cybersecurity structures aren’t there yet, still requiring human intervention, he said.
The cyber industry must develop standards for devices and ways for them to communicate with one another, what Schaffer calls “cross-talk capability.”
“What we hear and what we see is that there is an interest among all of the community to start making those interconnections work much better and a recognition that there is no such thing as a network built on one company’s solution and there’s not likely to be,” Schaffer said.
This vision of a cyber environment will take more than the efforts of DHS but all stakeholders as well, he said.
“We’ve lamented the issue of ‘Offense alway wins’ for long enough,” Schaffer said. “We now have to take it to the next level as a community.”
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-9 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, DC region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.