In late September, I was honored to represent Palo Alto Networks among a select group of stakeholders in Washington, D.C. for the inaugural Track 1.5 Cybersecurity Dialogue between senior government and industry officials from the United States (U.S.) and Australia. The Track 1.5 Dialogue—a term used to denote the combination of official and unofficial diplomatic interactions between nation-states—was established in January 2016 by President of the United States Barack Obama and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a forum to strengthen cybersecurity cooperation between the two countries.
The U.S.–Australia dialogue, which was co-hosted by the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, came at a time when both the U.S. and Australia had been increasingly focused on expanding meaningful collaboration between government and industry to ensure an open, secure and reliable internet for the benefit of the broader global community. Prime Minister Turnbull and U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson concluded the day-long meeting with keynote addresses that highlighted the ongoing initiatives and set the stage for the subsequent dialogue.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Turnbull highlighted the April 2016 release of Australia’s new Cyber Security Strategy, which includes an emphasis on the critical role that private industry plays in strengthening cybersecurity through technological innovation and cyberthreat information-sharing initiatives.
Among other initiatives, Secretary Johnson highlighted the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which President Obama signed last December, and its role in expanding the cyberthreat information-sharing environment between governments and the private sector. He noted that CERT Australia had recently become the first international participant in the sharing program the new law governs: Automated Indicator Sharing (AIS).
Both leaders framed the day’s dialogue as coming at a pivotal time, when our current era—the digital age—presents both immense opportunities and inherent risk and vulnerability. Each stressed how the near-daily succession of cybersecurity incidents has the potential to undermine the trust society places in our digital infrastructure, preventing us from realizing all the potential productivity benefits our digitally connected economy offers.
Prime Minister Turnbull also issued a call to action—for governments and industries around the world to work together to foster a shared understanding of this existential threat and develop a common language for discussing it. In particular, Prime Minister Turnbull highlighted the challenge of translating the technical terminology of cybersecurity practitioners into a more familiar, risk-based framework that senior government and C-suite, or company executive, decision-makers can understand.
Palo Alto Networks has been a global leader in these efforts to foster a common understanding of cybersecurity and empower leaders at all organizational levels to take the steps necessary to manage risk and proactively prevent cyberthreats. As an example, on September 21, the day before the Track 1.5 Dialogue, Palo Alto Networks partnered with Forbes to release the Australia edition of Navigating the Digital Age: The Definitive Cybersecurity Guide for Directors and Officers.
The Australia edition is the first in an upcoming series of regionally based follow-ups to our original Navigating the Digital Age book, which was released in the U.S. in October 2015 in partnership with the New York Stock Exchange and other influential organizations. The book series collects the expertise of CEOs, CISOs, forensic experts, lawyers, academics and government officials to provide corporate boards, executives and officers with practical advice on managing cyber risk. The books also provide a framework for executives to better understand the cybersecurity landscape, ask the right questions, set the right tone, and promote conversations across their organizations about everyone’s shared cybersecurity responsibility.
Whether it be during high-level government dialogues, like the U.S.–Australia Track 1.5, or through initiatives like the Navigating the Digital Age book series, Palo Alto Networks is tirelessly committed to driving this important conversation—across industry sectors and borders—that cybersecurity risk can be effectively managed with the right mix of next-generation technologies, a prevention-first mindset, and an educated workforce, all informed by an open and global cybersecurity dialogue.