Cybersecurity is the issue of this decade

No private company can face the monumental cybersecurity challenge alone. Now is the time for the public and private sectors to step up their collective efforts to improve nations’ cybersecurity for decades to come. The Charter of Trust is one of the key platforms to achieve this.

by Jonathan Sage, Cybersecurity Policy Europe, IBM

As our dependency on technology continues to grow so will the scale and sophistication of cybersecurity threats. For businesses, the intensification of cybercrime can be explained by Sutton’s law: that’s where the money is. The cost of cybercrime – already in the billions of dollars – rises each year and continues to increase in frequency, scope, and severity of impact.

While some attacks are costly and inconvenient, others can be crippling. With cybersecurity quickly becoming a new battleground for state competition, businesses and government share a collective responsibility to collaborate on preventing cyberattacks that could have a devastating impact or prompt national or global crises. We must join forces now to shore up the security of the critical infrastructure that keeps our society functioning.

As a leading enterprise security firm, IBM is uniquely positioned to help. Our teams use cloud and AI-powered software to manage 150 billion cybersecurity events each day for more than 17,000 commercial and government clients worldwide. Drawing on this breadth of expertise and capabilities, IBM is ready to do its part to help build enduring cybersecurity.

In a recent meeting with U.S. President Biden and members of his Cabinet, IBM’s Chief Executive, Arvind Krishna had in-depth discussions on how America’s digital defenses can be strengthened, making five key commitments that IBM is pledging to help address this imperative, which align well with IBM’s engagement as a founding member of the Charter of Trust:

1. Building a more robust and diverse cyber workforce

With nearly 500,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs across the U.S. (Source: NIST), IBM is going to help prepare more American students and workers for those vital roles by training more than 150,000 people in cybersecurity skills over the next three years through a range of programs, such as SkillsBuild. Workforce issues, training and diversity are key elements in the Charter of Trust’s Principle 6, “Education”. We also will partner with more than 20 Historically Black Colleges & Universities to establish Cybersecurity Leadership Centers to build a more diverse U.S. cyber workforce.

2. Measuring progress and results

We need to go beyond cybersecurity commitments and focus on measuring tangible progress and results. Measurement tools already exists in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting. In line with Principle 1 of the Charter of Trust, “Ownership for cyber and IT security”, IBM is calling for the establishment of voluntary public reporting standards on cybersecurity practices. We believe the cyber framework developed by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) could serve as a strong starting point for building such a reporting system.

3. Protecting critical infrastructure

Dealing with a cybersecurity crisis is a matter of when, not if. To help critical infrastructure organizations better prepare for and recover from ransomware attacks, we are announcing IBM Safeguarded Copy—a new data storage solution that can shorten the time it takes for organizations to recover from days to hours. IBM is already working with industries that operate critical infrastructure and will expand this offering to other clients.

4. Accelerating quantum-safe cryptography

While quantum computers will help solve new categories of problems that are beyond the reach of even today’s most powerful traditional computers, they will also make our current encryption methods obsolete. As we prepare for a quantum world, IBM is committed to developing and deploying new, quantum-safe encryption methods such as lattice-based cryptography.

5. Securing the Technology Supply Chain

Finally, IBM participates in an effort led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a comprehensive framework to improve the security of the technology supply chain, reflecting the goal in Principle 2 of the Charter of Trust, “Responsibility throughout the digital supply chain”. This work builds on IBM’s engagement with NIST on software supply chain security following the U.S. President’s recent cybersecurity executive order, and it also will include a focus on open-source technology in which IBM has decades of expertise.

Protecting the digital economy: A concerted effort

As we have seen in just the past few months, cyberattacks can cause widescale disruption, economic upheaval, and even physical damage. If nothing is done, future attacks could become even more destructive and impact the power, transport, and communications systems we all depend upon to live and work.

IBM is already taking action on many fronts to protect the digital economy – from keeping our data secure, to helping cyber-defenders become as collaborative as cybercriminals, to inspiring a new generation to pursue careers in cyber, and more.

That said, no private company can face this monumental challenge alone. Now is the time for the public and private sectors to step up their collective efforts to improve nations’ cybersecurity for decades to come. The Charter of Trust is one of the key platforms to achieve this.