Strategies for Minimizing Cybersecurity Risks


Quentin Hodgson, Senior International/Defense Researcher

Cyber security is ultimately a team sport, which means it requires action on the behalf of individuals, organizations and businesses, government, and internationally as well. At the individual level, we all have to become much better educated about the kinds of threats that we face and what constitutes risky behavior when we're using our own personal devices, whether it's at home for personal entertainment or for work purposes.

Over the past year, we've seen a significant shift in workforce habits as more of the workforce had to work from home or work remotely due to the pandemic. And this has really exposed organizations and businesses to a much broader so-called "attack surface." It means that those businesses, the IT professionals, cybersecurity professionals, have to think much more broadly about how to secure their networks and services against cyber threats when you can't just rely on a strong perimeter defense, but really have to think about focusing more on a data-centric approach to cybersecurity.

At the government level, we've seen some significant improvements in the ability of, for example, the United States government to coordinate its cybersecurity support to the private sector, as well as coordinating across government from the Department of Homeland Security to the FBI and Justice Department and the Department of Defense. Examples include the work to try to defend the elections in 2018 and 2020 from foreign interference, but also coordinate activity on the part of law enforcement agencies working with private sector companies, both here as well as abroad, to take down malicious infrastructure such as the Trickbot and Emotet botnets in the past few months.

We have to recognize, of course, that the SolarWinds compromise, which affected a number of U.S. government agencies as well as private sector, is yet another example of having to continually focus on improving our cybersecurity posture, that we can never rest and think that we've accomplished everything we need to do. It's a constant, constant battle against malicious cyber actors.

Internationally, of course, we have a lot of issues that we need to face, and some of those have to include not just coordinating with our partners and allies, but engaging in a constructive dialog with countries like Russia and China who are engaging in malicious cyber activity. We can't let them just continue to engage in these kinds of activities without calling them out for it when it does happen.