Large data breaches are becoming a fact of life we have to deal with. In 2019 alone, an estimated 4 billion records were breached, a number that’s only rising. Fortunately, citizens aren’t on their own dealing with the fallout: Government innovation and cooperation between government and private industry is helping to better secure our data.
The Cooperation Needed
This has been the work of years and several pieces of legislation. For example, in 2015, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act was passed, allowing companies to share data on potential threats with government agencies, but doesn’t make such reporting mandatory. However, some challenges remain, some logistical, some philosophical.
- Civil liberties: There has been repeated concern that private citizens could have their privacy violated or have their digital information used in ways unrelated to cybersecurity. These concerns will be evergreen and ongoing; during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, there’s worry that information from contact tracing apps and GPS tracking tools will be misused.
- Technological cooperation: Governments use technology that’s been tested and proved to be as secure as possible; this is why so many of our medical records are sent by fax machines even now. These technological gaps need to be carefully bridged.
- Shifting concerns: Technology is changing at a pace far faster than even private industry can fully track, and concerns of citizens can shift with it. Even staying literate in these technologies can be a difficult task.
- Proprietary and copyrighted technology: One of the ongoing debates between private industry and government is how much proprietary technology should be discussed in public forums. In some cases, companies may be hesitant to discuss highly sensitive designs and code with anyone, government or not, for fear of their competitive advantage being compromised.
How Government Innovation Can Help
Government can lead the way by providing new and thoughtful approaches to these concerns, filling in where the private sector has little reach and connecting it with the public and other stakeholders. For example:
- Analyzing and updating regulation: Regulation should be examined closely to ensure it applies effectively to cybersecurity. Depending on the industry, there may be no regulation, not enough, or it may not apply.
- Polling stakeholders: What individual citizens, small businesses, and different agencies might view as crucial to cybersecurity may be wildly different or even contradictory in some cases. Governments are in a unique position to use government innovation platforms to draw in stakeholders across that spectrum and get a better sense of what’s needed.
- Grants and innovation drives: Similarly, governments are uniquely placed to tap into a community’s resources and pair groups in need with those that have the resources to help. They can be the bridge for resources that the private sector may need to reach but may not have the connections with.
- Education: Stakeholders will tend from the knowledgeable to, in some cases, not even having a smartphone they use regularly. Governments can educate everyone and put them on an equal footing through public service campaigns, resource offices, and similar tools.
As technology becomes more commonplace in our lives and put to different uses, we’ll be increasingly turning to government to help bridge the gap and bring everyone to the table. Government innovation will be needed to ensure everyone is heard, respected, included, and, finally, protected. To learn more about government innovation and cybersecurity, contact us!