As part of a broader “Cybersecurity Call to Action” outlined in the Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report, Cisco has called for the development of a cohesive, multi-stakeholder, global cybergovernance framework. Investing in the development of such a framework is essential to supporting innovation and economic growth in business on the global stage.

While there has been an increasing awareness that managing cyber risks is essential to the operation of any networked system, current mechanisms are not effective to protect businesses from cyberattacks. The lack of effective global cybergovernance can prevent collaboration in the security industry, which is needed to create adaptive technologies that can detect and prevent new threats.

Without question, the Internet is only becoming more essential to organizations around the globe. They rely on it not only for everyday operations, but also for supporting new business models that provide them competitive advantage and benefit consumers. Adversaries, meanwhile, are deploying tactics that can undermine the success of any business operating in the digital economy. The Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report makes clear that threat actors are only becoming more adept at innovating rapidly and enhancing their capacity to compromise systems and evade detection.

Certainly, additional investments in people, processes, and technology will be required given the dynamic nature of the cyber threat environment. At the same time, The Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report also notes that industry and governments—and society, in general—will need to work together more effectively to address growing security and privacy challenges as the Internet of Things takes shape and we become more interconnected.

However, right now, as the Cisco report explains, cooperation and trust between entities on the global stage is limited at best between some players, and nonexistent between others. Even entities with strong alliances have competing philosophies about cybergovernance. There is also a lack of consensus between governments about norms of behavior in a connected world. Protecting national security, public safety, and economic stability are core functions of governments. At the same time, there should be a greater recognition that actions taken by governments in the name of protecting citizens can undermine trust in technology, which is fundamental to continued economic growth. Government officials need to leverage transparent, collaborative processes for policymaking given the complex and interconnected nature of systems that rely on information technology products and services. Lawmakers should also work to avoid conflicting legal obligations where an action required in one country is prohibited in another.

The Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report, therefore, points to the need for greater harmonization of rulemaking, particularly around data protection regulations, as a foundational element toward building a cybergovernance framework that can support the modern—and future—digital economy. But achieving this type of harmonization will take a long time, and will require substantial work and commitment from all countries involved. Until then, decision makers in businesses should consult their legal teams and security practitioners regularly to ensure they understand the impact that regulations issued by different countries may have on operations.

To learn more, download the Cisco 2015 Midyear Security Report.


Eric Wenger

Senior Director, Technology Policy

Global Government Affairs