CSO50 2017: IACI's neighborhood watch is a new approach to information sharing

A nationwide network of cybersecurity groups want to change the way information is exchanged

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Steve Traynor

Each year, the CSO50 awards honor organizations who demonstrate innovation and outstanding business value in security.  Winners will be recognized in a ceremony that will take place at the CSO50 Conference + Awards, on May 1-3, 2017 at The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch in Scottsdale, Ariz. One of those winners is IACI. This is the story behind their award-winning project.

The federal government for years has advocated that cyberthreat information-sharing is the key to faster identification and remediation of attacks. The challenge was to make once-taboo information sharing more inviting to the private sector, and to educate organizations about its benefits.

IACI, an international non-profit association that fosters information sharing and collaboration among certified information sharing and analysis organizations (ISAOs), was launched in June 2016 to accomplish just that – to create a nationwide network of cybersecurity "neighborhood watch" groups that will fundamentally change the information sharing landscape.

No other environment in the nation coordinates cross-sector analysis through direct work with communities of interest and links them to partners to enhance cyber intelligence, IACI leaders say. IACI partnered with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to create an anonymized information sharing mechanism between the private sector and the government.

[ See all 50 security company winners in story and slideshow form ]

“The idea [for the initiative] was that, the government can’t protect you – it’s trying to protect itself, and one of the greatest ways to reduce risk is through information sharing,” says IACI CEO and executive director Michael Echols, a former DHS senior cybersecurity executive. “If you’re in a trusted group with other companies, if something happens to you, the same thing shouldn’t happen to them.”

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