Hacked Opinions: The legalities of hacking – Fred Kost

Fred Kost, form HyTrust, talks about hacking regulation and legislation

Fred Kost talks about hacking regulation and legislation with CSO in a series of topical discussions with industry leaders and experts.

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. This week CSO is posting the final submissions for the second set of discussions examining security research, security legislation, and the difficult decision of taking researchers to court.

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CSO encourages everyone to take part in the Hacked Opinions series. If you have thoughts or suggestions for the third series of Hacked Opinions topics, or want to be included as a participant, feel free to email Steve Ragan directly.

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

Fred Kost, SVP, HyTrust (FK): Too often it seems lawmakers over simplify cyber security issues and assume that legislation will be effective at reducing the number or breaches and losses. While the government spends a lot of time on policy making, it seems too often the policies are based on looking at the past versus the future and don’t drive policy to put in place best practices that address core issues like requiring encryption and data protection.

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

FK: Lawmakers should drive legislation that would foster information sharing amongst companies, not just with the government, protect researchers who follow responsible disclosure for new vulnerabilities, and hold companies more accountable for failure to adopt and implement best practices for the protection of information and their networks.

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?

FK: We need to hold companies accountable for making security a priority and taking actions to prevent the loss of data and attacks that disable critical services. For most companies, accountability is well understood, financially, at the executive and board level, with either fines - for instances where they fail to meet requirements or best practices, or fines when they fail in their efforts and suffer a loss of data or network outage.

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

FK: The language of business is money, not security. When we speak in terms of money and tie it to security, it is likely more companies will truly understand the importance of security and the impact that a lack of focus can have.

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?

FK: Researchers help establish accountability. In general, most follow responsible disclosure practices. When researchers are irresponsible with disclosure, a company might consider legal actions – but only as a last resort.

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?

FK: Public sector organizations just like the government face threats and attacks constantly. Sharing information like attack sources and attack techniques or signatures could help both better defend against attackers. Many public sector organizations publish attack data on sources and types of attacks.

The government has very large networks and could share information on what they’re seeing as well from sensors on the network. Part of the problem is sharing this type of information might openly provide insights into defenses and what success an attacker is having, just the thing no public sector organization or government wants to overly communicate.

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