Why We Need to be More Like Apes, Less Like Seagulls

By Tom Hagy

Featuring Craigg Ballance, Director of Canadian Member Services, FS-ISAC

Even before we can walk we are encouraged to share. We’re told to share our things even when we barely have any. Even some wild animals share food and resources – even when those resources are scarce. Some creatures are better at it than others, of course. Apes and lions? Absolutely. Seagulls? All you have to do next time you’re on the beach is toss what’s left of your ham sandwich into the air and see how generous gulls are.

People fall into sharing — and not-fond-of-sharing — groups, too. Sharing is particularly critical in the financial sector where, while privacy and security regulations command a tight lid on data, global financial institutions are successfully sharing data about cyber risk, says Craigg Ballance, Director of Canadian Member Services for FS-ISAC in Toronto. But, he says, sharing has to take place across a broad landscape.

“Information analysis sharing has to cut across the various subsets of the financial sector,” says Ballance. “While banks share local data, they are trying more and more to share globally, but,” he says, “banks need to share with other institutions, like insurers, investment funds, pension funds, and other types of financial institutions, for this cooperation to have the greatest and most effective impact on security.”

While some IT professionals may tend to want to play things close to the vest, when it comes to cybersecurity teams it is the IT professional who works openly with others who is an invaluable player.

The Danger of Over-Confidence

Some blamed over-confident IT professionals for the massive cyber attack that temporarily crippled shipping giant Maersk in June 2017. At the same time, as reported by Reuters on June 27, 2017, Ukrainian commercial banks also sustained a cyber attacks.

“There are a lot of smart people out there actively trying to figure out ways to mess us up,” Ballance says, whether it’s through new denial of service attacks, or cyberware and ransomware, or the creatively diabolical phishing attacks. “When one entity is falls prey to one of these schemes we’re suddenly all at greater risk,” Ballance says. “There is a limited volume of resources and talent to combat cyber-attacks, so pooling resources, information and skill sets is critical.”

Ballance emphasizes the importance of having a playbook so when a crisis occurs people know who is supposed to do what and when. “In the midst of an attack people tend to lose their minds and not necessarily act logically,” he says. “So having a prepared methodology to get your organization out of a pickle is a piece of work we strongly advocate, as well as sharing that methodology across industries. This way, as examples, banks and insurance companies and investors can enrich each other with new insights and skills.”

He also advocates simulated attacks and table-top exercises so people can engage as if they are dealing with a real disaster, like those conducted by FS-ISAC. Conducting post-event analysis to improve response and sharing those findings is also important.

Experience tells us that when it comes to global cybersecurity we need to be more like gorillas and big cats than selfish seagulls down by the sea shore.

Craigg Ballance will share insights like these and more at the International Cyber Risk Management Conference Dec. 6-7, 2018 in Bermuda. He will be joined by Nick Galletto, Global Cyber Risk Services Leader at Deloitte in a session titled, “Strength Through Information Sharing Within the Global Financial Services Arena.”

Over the past three-plus decades, Ballance has led and managed advanced technology-enabled business initiatives across a wide range of competitive sectors, countries and areas of innovation. These build on his experience in leading electronic commerce development in one of the world’s path-setting banks in the field and on his extensive work in finance, logistics, international business and government. He is the author/co-author of three books on leveraging technology for business innovation.

Tom Hagy is a Philadelphia-based writer and entrepreneur, Founder and Managing Director of HB Litigation Conferences LLC and Custom Legal Content LLC, former Editor and Publisher of Mealey’s Litigation Reports, and a former Vice President at LexisNexis®.