Hacked Opinions: The legalities of hacking – Lisa Donnan

Lisa Donnan, of BeyondTrust, talks about hacking regulation and legislation

Lisa Donnan, of BeyondTrust, talks about hacking regulation and legislation with CSO in a series of topical discussions with industry leaders and experts.

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Hacked Opinions is an ongoing series of Q&As with industry leaders and experts on a number of topics that impact the security community. The first set of discussions focused on disclosure and how pending regulation could impact it. Now, this second set of discussions will examine security research, security legislation, and the difficult decision of taking researchers to court.

CSO encourages everyone to take part in the Hacked Opinions series. If you would like to participate, email Steve Ragan with your answers to the questions presented in this Q&A. The deadline is October 31, 2015. In addition, feel free to suggest topics for future consideration.

What do you think is the biggest misconception lawmakers have when it comes to cybersecurity?

Lisa Donnan, Vice President of Federal, BeyondTrust (LD): The cybersecurity threat landscape is only growing, so it's a domain that needs to be managed as an on-going and evolving risk by government, industry and the general public.

The biggest misconception that lawmakers harbor is that they have the ability to stop threat actors and the threat environment through legislation. There is no silver bullet for fighting the threat, it's a full-on team sport.

What advice would you give to lawmakers considering legislation that would impact security research or development?

LD: The adversary evolves at incredible speed. Both government and industry would agree that on-going security research and development is necessary to acquire real time actionable cyber defense. Lawmakers should be incentivizing R&D through federal, academic and industry sectors.

If you could add one line to existing or pending legislation, with a focus on research, hacking, or other related security topic, what would it be?

LD: The line would read: Research on automated courses of action that drive not just compliance but results.

Now, given what you've said, why is this one line so important to you?

LD: History has shown there are plenty of examples of successful compliance to a specific set of measurements but that doesn't necessarily lead to successful computer security.

We need to mitigate and thwarts attacks in real time. The ability to accomplish this is to automate the process of mitigation and blocking attacks. In order to accomplish that we need R&D to build solutions that enable people to have the controls to make decisions and manage versus being in the loop of cyber defense.

Do you think a company should resort to legal threats or intimidation to prevent a researcher from giving a talk or publishing their work? Why, or why not?

LD: In general, sharing of research results advances the state of the practice for the entire community. With that said, researchers have a right, as do companies, to protect their Intellectual Property.

What types of data (attack data, threat intelligence, etc.) should organizations be sharing with the government? What should the government be sharing with the rest of us?

LD: The government should be collecting, analyzing and sharing information from both the private industry and other government sources within the ecosystem of trusted partners. Whether that is threat intelligence, attack data, courses of actions; public/private sharing mechanisms are key to mitigation and resolution.

With that said, given the breadth of widely publicized government breaches, it is imperative that the government make changes to their internal processes and make the necessary investments to secure sensitive data.

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