Cybersecurity

The role of Big Tech in cyber defence

Cyber warfare has reached new levels and governments are now turning to Big Tech to strengthen their cyber defence.

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Cyber warfare has reached new levels - with attacks now disrupting supply chains, infiltrating governments, and affecting national infrastructure. And cyber threats at a national level have significantly bigger consequences than an organisational data breach, ones which impact international relations.

Back in 2021, the US accused China of a global cyberespionage campaign and responded with a broad coalition that included Britain, the EU and even NATO. Beijing rejected the attempted initiative and called it irresponsible. Overall, it was a highly tense situation involving two super nations, and ultimately, a conflict which emphasised a growing problem for government offices. The UK’s Gloucester City Council has been hit twice by attackers in the last decade, Belgium’s defence ministry and Canada’s foreign ministry have been targeted by hackers, and perhaps the most serious of all; Ukraine’s massive cyber attack that shut down numerous government websites. The fallout of Ukraine’s cyber attack highlights the catastrophic effects of cyberwarfare at a national level. It should be a wake-up call for countries to strengthen their own cyber security posture.

While most countries like the UK and Belgium are increasing investment in cybersecurity, the US is turning to Big Tech for help with cyber defence. After sending out a letter back in December, the White House met executives from the top tech firms – including Google, Apple, IBM and Amazon – to discuss how to bolster software security in the wake of the attack on Log4j, the open-source software. A bold move, one that indicates the private sector could be the answer to securing critical infrastructure and systems.

The current state of national cybersecurity

Perhaps a rather obvious and inevitable challenge for governments is that countries will undeniably engage in cyber-espionage. In a data-driven and digital-first world, the easiest form of information gathering is to target systems and data. Some of the targets of the SolarWinds/Nobelium attack of 2020 included the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), and the US Treasury.

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