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Deloitte report urges governments around the world to step up cybersecurity efforts or face potential disruption and isolation in the global economy


Effective cybersecurity programs will increase global commerce and improve the interaction between governments and the governed

Washington D.C. - Governments around the world need to address cybersecurity urgently to mitigate the threat of disruption to government operations and commerce, and to facilitate sustainable economic growth. The result will be an increase in global commerce and better interaction between governments and the governed. According to the report “Cybersecurity: Everybody’s imperative. Protecting our economies, governments, and citizens,” published today by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, everything that depends on cyberspace – from infrastructure to military operations and national security – is at risk.

“We need to act now to ensure the continued safety and security of a digital economy, our governments and citizens,” said Greg Pellegrino, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Global Public Sector Industry Leader, and co-author of the point of view. “The stakes of not addressing cybersecurity now are high, and the risks of not doing it right are even higher. The wrong approach could foster isolation, the prospect of cyber-protectionism, and an inadequate balance between security and civil liberties" he added.

The report shows that an effective cybersecurity program will have a positive impact in the economies and governments around the world. “There are effective ways to address cyber security, which include developing a positive cyber culture, cooperation between countries, building partnerships between government and the private sector, and education of users and citizens,” said Pellegrino.

Cyber culture, fostered by the rapid growth of Internet enabled devices and machinery, is growing faster than cybersecurity, and it won’t slow down. Cyberspace, which began as an electronic add-on to other domains such as land or sea commerce, today is a domain unto itself. Private data, intellectual property, cyber infrastructure, and even military and national security can be compromised by deliberate attacks, inadvertent security lapses, and the vulnerabilities of relatively immature, unregulated frontier – the global Internet. On top of this, the current global economic crisis is amplifying the threats, because economic inequality and unhappy workers could be sources of risk.

A transnational solution

“Governments around the world need to define the degree of international investment and cooperation between the public and private sectors to address this complex problem,” said Pellegrino. “The solution should be transnational, holistic, and strategic, and it must involve more than technology.”

According to the Deloitte member firm subject matter specialists interviewed for the report, governments should cooperate to set up uniform standards of protection around the world, and partner with the private sector because most of the world’s online infrastructure is in corporate hands.

Cybersecurity should also strike the right balance between security and civil liberties, educate and involve citizens to make them aware of the threats, and provide positive inducements to dissuade future cyber-criminals. And because of the crucial, strategic nature of the problem, the solution should involve top leadership in governments and industry.

Incentives and accountability
The role of governments around the world in meeting this challenge is one of the issues raised by the report. The Deloitte member firm specialists interviewed agree that the public sector should:

* set standards that build better security and protection;
* develop new laws on data privacy that align with the new reality, and
* create reliable metrics for internet service providers, equipment manufacturers and software designers to secure the online environment and to empower users against cyber crimes.

In addition, governments should promote cybersecurity efforts by providing incentives to the private sector, corporations and citizens with tax breaks, preferred access to government contracts, and performance based rewards.

Benefits and risks of cybersecurity
Effective cybersecurity efforts will enhance global commerce, improve security of on-line transactions, and increase protection of sensitive data. But more importantly, these efforts will bolster trust, transparency, and efficiency in government dealings with the private sector.

The report advocates that those who don’t keep up with cybersecurity may not maintain a trusted relationship and, as a result, might find themselves isolated in an increasingly interdependent global economy, which may give rise to a new cyber protectionism. Disparities in cyber risk management among countries can affect trade; governments might deny potentially unsafe trading partners, and some companies might get away from operating in overseas markets where they don’t feel their assets are protected.

“Governments should treat cybersecurity – and the changes in habits and lifestyle that go with it – as ’whens’, not ’ifs’. There’s no question that we need to live with this. There’s no way back,” concluded Pellegrino.

For more information, please read the report.

About Deloitte
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