With high-profile cyber intrusions and data breaches growing in magnitude, sophistication and complexity with each passing day, the need to foster sharing of cyberthreat data among businesses and other organizations is more important than ever.

For years, securing networks was a relatively contained matter. Today, however, businesses can have millions of users accessing their systems, and the volume of data that has to be secured is staggering — and growing by the second. In recent testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, IBM Cybersecurity Counsel Andrew Tannenbaum asserted that “companies know that they cannot eliminate all cybersecurity risk” because the threats are “simply too diverse and dynamic.” Therefore, enterprises need to adopt a risk management approach to cyberthreats. This includes identifying potential risks in their IT systems, prioritizing the mitigation of those risks and allocating security resources accordingly.

Cybersecurity Is a Data Analytics Challenge

A critical element of any enterprise-level cybersecurity risk management program is the ability to rapidly receive and use actionable data about the latest threats. With new threats evolving constantly, organizations need to be able to share such data quickly to keep one another a step ahead of the hackers.

Tannenbaum urged members of Congress to pass information sharing legislation as quickly as possible. He detailed three vital elements that would make a cybersecurity bill truly effective:

  • Privacy Protection: Any cybersecurity information sharing legislation must protect the privacy of individuals. Sharing should be limited to the technical details that organizations need to defend their systems.
  • Liability Protection: Many businesses will be reluctant to share threat information until federal law is updated to provide legal clarity and liability protection for companies who do so appropriately and in good faith.
  • Sharing “Rules of the Road”: Organizations need a single, civilian government agency with which to share cyberthreat information and reasonable flexibility to engage other agencies under specific and justifiable circumstances.

Taking the Lead on Intelligence Sharing

As businesses confront the growing challenges of securing critical systems, we must make a concerted effort to expand and accelerate the sharing of cyberthreat information, all while ensuring proper privacy safeguards. The exchange of information will help companies adapt more quickly to evolving attacks, enhance the use of sophisticated analytics and improve the ability of organizations to thwart cyberthreats in real time.

IBM is taking the lead to mobilize the private sector behind this cause. That’s why last month IBM opened up its vast library of security intelligence data to the public in a free community called the X-Force Exchange. In just a short period of time, more than 1,000 organizations have joined the X-Force Exchange, including some of the world’s largest banks and retailers. As noted by Tannenbaum, the passage of information sharing legislation can help improve and expand this data flow even further, helping protect the networks of enterprises worldwide.

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