Cyber attacks and cyber crime: governments need a common agenda to fight them

In this “Secure in Mind” podcast episode, we discuss with Christopher Painter, the world’s first Cyber Diplomat. Christopher was appointed as the inaugural cyber diplomat for the US State Department by then-Secretary Hillary Clinton in 2011 and has been cutting through the global cyber dross ever since

20 Nov 2019

After several in person discussion with Christopher, I finally sat down (remotely though due to timing! J) with him for an episode and I’m sure listeners will take away a huge amount from it. Christopher is the former Coordinator for Cyber Affairs at the US State Department and former Senior Director for Cyber Security at the White House, a role he covered from the beginning of Obama’s Administration in 2009, until the first eight months of Trump’s Presidency, in 2016. In this charge, he helped shape US international cyber policy and supported the creation of the Cyber Directorate Affairs at the US National Security Council. On top of this impressive background, he is currently a Commissioner at the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace.

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Prosecution, Diplomacy, Cyber

With his background as a Prosecutor and additional experience operating at the most senior levels of government and international diplomacy, Christopher is the perfect person to address the most pressing cyber issues governments’ face today, including dealing with cyber conflicts, fighting cybercrime and, among others, facing electoral interference. Particularly, he points out the reasons for supporting a stronger integration of a cyber agenda in every government’s top priorities.

Public attribution, activism vs crime & the diplomacy game

Our conversation was rich with coverage of the complexities involved in diplomacy e.g. shaping cyber dialogue, coordinating different support mechanisms and stakeholders, untangling complex adversarial relationships and posturing correctly to gain both internal and external desired reactions. We then moved on to a discussion concerning the need for inter-country alliances aimed at defense-driven information sharing and joint public attribution.

We ended our conversation on the perceived purpose of hacking attacks and attempted to separate hacktivism activities (for privacy, freedom online, security, defense) and crime (data theft and leakage, public exposure of secret documents, unauthorized access to restricted sources of information) while also looking at the associated disincentives / sentences for criminal hacking activities.

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Nick is someone who, in many senses, is just like you: a human being trying to make sense of this existence of ours as we hurtle around a ball of gas in a sea of infinite eternity. More relevant though are his vacillations in the world amongst diverse countries and environments, collaborating, negotiating, elaborating and celebrating with fascinating people from all walks of life including politics, technology, activism, military and intelligence the world over.

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The production cost of this episode of ‘Secure in Mind’ was supported by aizoOn Technology Consulting.

aizoOn is a global technology consulting company focused on innovation. Since the digital economy requires new visions, technologies and organisational models, we have taken the eco-system approach. Through this attitude, innovation happens through a co-creation process involving government agencies, individuals, public and private entities.

What this boils down to is that we use data and brains to drastically increase efficiencies, reduce waste, consolidate technology security and cyber postures and train the next generation of the top tech force.

If you want to passively and effectively identify hackers in your network, require project management on your space programme or even need a chemical scientist to solve a supply chain issue in your bottling plant, give us a call!


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