What does cybersecurity have to do with collaboration? A simple answer would be that cybersecurity is not an issue for one individual to be handled, but for the entire organisation, or even at the national and international level. What is this collaboration then, and what can it be like?

In our book (entitled “On Collaboration, the warp and weft of society”), Michael Baker and myself introduce three crucial characteristics of collaboration. The first one we call equality, meaning that there is to be no hierarchy when people collaborate. We are all in the same cybersecurity predicament, no one being more important than the other. There is no special one whose being right is more right than that of others. This does not mean we all know or contribute the same, as our abilities in that sense may differ. This brings us to the second criterion, which proposes that in collaboration, people work together on some shared objective. This means that we try and do our best to contribute and link to what others have said and done. The third criterion that we propose is mutual respect, or consideration. This means that we try and listen and acknowledge the contributions by others. Such consideration is the basis for the development of trust. People develop trust in others and in organisations that acknowledge them and their efforts. When a boss simply takes someone else’s idea to present it as his, he violates all criteria for collaboration.

Defined as we just did, collaboration is as much an attitude as it is a way of acting. There is no recipe for it to happen in a particular way. What we claim is that collaboration is necessary for fighting cybercrime. Without it, individual solutions and exceptions will actually make the situation worse, as there will be no transparency, and the same issue may present itself again. Instead, when the issue is reported, shared and implications discussed, similar cases may be avoided, and we may be better prepared for facing the next incident.

Jerry Andriessen
Wise & Munro