#DSbD: Embrace Change and Collaboration to Revolutionize Cybersecurity

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Embracing change and collaboration are critical components of transforming cybersecurity, according to Clare Johnson, partnerships and outreach manager (digital and STEM), founder and director of Women in Cyber Wales, speaking during the latest Digital Security by Design (DSbD) roadshow event at the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport, Wales, UK.

Johnson’s presentation was made in the context of the government-backed DSbD initiative, which aims to transform digital technology to make it secure by design.

Johnson began by highlighting how far people have embraced new technologies like mobile phones and social media in the past 20 years. She observed that “when we see new technology, it’s easy to want to use that technology when it’s fun, we can see a point in it and it’s entertaining.”

However, encouraging this kind of mindset “is more difficult when we’re thinking about the security side of that technology and the things that work behind the scenes that we don’t necessarily find that entertaining or fun.”

Nonetheless, adopting new approaches and challenging conventional thinking is essential in an increasingly digitized world. “In terms of security, if we’re not moving forwards and developing, then we are effectively going backwards because our adversaries will definitely be moving forward,” commented Johnson.

She then discussed the importance of collaboration in achieving the type of technological change envisioned by the DSbD initiative, highlighting a number of historical examples. These included Larry Page and Sergey Bryn in their creation and development of tech giant Google, who reached out to numerous external parties to help them during their journey.

Another example was Thomas Edison, in his work inventing the lightbulb. Johnson described Edison “as the hero of failure,” as he had to test hundreds of substances before finding an approach that worked safely and effectively. As part of this process, he asked biologists across the world to send in plant fibers he could test, ultimately leading to the selection of “a carbonized cotton thread as the basis for his lightbulb filament.”

This example is especially pertinent to the DSbD program, which includes the prototype Morello Board developed by Arm in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and SRI International. Industry and academia are being invited to experiment on the Morello board, with a view to providing vital insights on how to create more secure hardware architecture in processors of the future.

Johnson also explored the components of a successful partnership. These are:

  • Mutual benefit – all parties gain a benefit from the collaboration
  • Trust – don’t get too caught up in red tape/non-disclosure agreements/contracts
  • Evolve – be willing to adapt if things aren’t going to plan
  • Vision – all parties understand where they want to get to
  • Diversity – demographics, experiences, skills, etc.

Johnson concluded with a message to the UK’s cybersecurity sector: “This is an opportunity to embrace a new technology that can really make a difference, so please do partner with people you know, speak to your local universities, your local governments, your local industries and let’s work together to make the UK a safer place.”

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