What's the key to tackling cyberattacks? Building a diverse team to think smarter

Culture and collaboration are key elements of helping to protect businesses, governments and society against cyber threats, says cybersecurity leader.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer

Cybersecurity teams must have a diverse mindset to provide the best means of protecting businesses, governments and others from cyberattacks – and that collaboration is the key to ensuring different perspectives can come together in the fight against cybercrime.

It's this sort of collaborative attitude that is needed to help combat challenges and reduce cyber risk to societies, says Pete Cooper, deputy director of cyber defence for the UK Cabinet Office and lead of the government sector of the National Cyber Security Programme.

The former RAF fast jet pilot turned cyber-operations advisor founded the UK's first multi-disciplinary cyber strategy competition and believes that better collaboration and diversity is the key to tackling international cybersecurity challenges.

SEE: A winning strategy for cybersecurity (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)  

"We all have diverse perspectives of what our challenges are and we all have our individual horizons and the real value of collaboration comes through seeing the world those diverse perspectives," Cooper said, speaking during his keynote session at Black Hat Europe 2020.

"Because by doing that you then start creating shared perspectives, you start pushing out your joint horizons so you can see further and develop a much better joint understanding of everything."

Mixing together the different perspectives has the potential to transform how resources can be used and what actions can be taken, he explained – and maybe even find new ways of dealing with known and previously unknown scenarios.

"It creates a unique collaboration so you can identify those obstacles, opportunities and ideas you wouldn't have been able to do previously – and that's what it really means to collaborate," Cooper said.

"In collaborating across those diverse teams, the best solutions are those joint solutions and it takes that collaboration".

Preventing and responding to cyberattacks and data breaches is a key part of cybersecurity, but it's far from the only part of the job – and the culture of the industry and information security teams within organisations needs to reflect that.

"Incidents are just the tip of the iceberg and that we've got to have a great and engaged culture to see under the surface and understand what the problems are, understand what the events are and understand what the ideas might be to see them," Cooper explained.

SEE: Lightning does strike twice: If you get hacked once, you'll probably be attacked again within a year

And while bringing together those different perspective does take time and effort, as he noted during the session, collaboration and diversity is valuable for everything that cybersecurity is attempting to achieve.

"Because if we do that, we then start sharing those shared perspectives and we expand out our horizons," Cooper said.

"The more we learn form those joint horizons by working together, the better it is for everybody as we try to tackle the key risks going forwards," he added.


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