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New Security Trend: Bring Your Own Attorney

BYOA is not a security joke anymore. There is clearly a need for a cybersecurity community that is well-versed in legal and ethical principles.

W. Hord Tipton

August 28, 2013

5 Min Read

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Acronyms have an amusing way of characterizing moments in time. For some of us, BYOB (bring your own beverage) became a familiar and festive part of college. Now, later in life, those of us in the government professional environment have learned to use a similar acronym -- BYOD.

BYOD sums up the ability to use our own mobile device -- laptop, tablet, smart phone -- to access agency or company information and applications. It also suggests an approach that makes our job easier, makes us more productive and creates an overall more satisfying work-life balance.

I see a similar acronym being tossed around that could likely define the next decade in government IT, however. This one gives off a not-so-festive and certainly not-so-productive vibe -- BYOA or bring your own attorney.

While BYOA is mostly used tongue-in-cheek in government security circles, the era of BYOA is quickly evolving from jest to reality, given the nature of today's cyber conflicts and murky data privacy policies.

[ Beginning of a new hacking wave? Read NY Times Caught In Syrian Hacker Attack. ]

Reuters, based on interviews with U.S. intelligence officials, recently reported the U.S. government is now believed to be the "biggest buyer" of malware, as part of an offensive strategy that experts believe leaves business and consumer systems/data vulnerable.

This and countless other complex security considerations only reinforce the fact that whether a breach is caused by a questionable offensive measure or a faulty defensive measure, cyber represents the next biggest legal battlefield for government organizations.

In the area of cyber, legal issues almost always result in a need for the specialty of digital forensics in an effort to find out what happened, who did it and how to prove it. On a global scale, digital forensics is considered among the fastest growing fields in technology because there are simply not enough resources to adequately investigate the number and complexity of crimes occurring. Consider that 20% of nearly 12,400 respondents in an (ISC)² 2013 Global Information Security Study said there were not enough forensic analysts within their organization. Additional research by the Ponemon Institute found:

-- 64% of respondents blamed malicious data breaches on lack of in-house expertise.

-- 47% blamed the breaches on lack of forensic capabilities.

-- Following a malicious breach, 52% say they increased spending on forensic capabilities by an average of 33%.

Unfortunately, the capability to sufficiently investigate cyber crimes has grown far beyond the Justice Department's capacity to manage. Although historically Justice has been overwhelmed with cases that have dwarfed the importance of cyber crime, the tide has turned. Cyber crime damage can no longer be categorized as a lesser priority, because the severity of damage resulting from cyber crime is surpassing that from traditional methods of crime.

In fact, the growth of cyber crime (in addition to traditional crimes, civil litigation, cyber-attacks for intelligence purposes, and more) is predicted to drive growth of the cyber forensics field over the next few years to at least three to four times faster than the growth of the global economy. This is a significant indicator of just how much collaboration the cyber and legal communities will demand.

So, how would the current relationship between the legal and cyber security professional communities be defined? And what is the role of legal personnel in today's security world and vice versa?

It is certainly something we are actively examining. In anticipation of the BYOA reality, my organization is forging closer relationships with organizations such as the American Bar Association, American Academy of Forensic Scientists, global governments and leading IT companies with the goal of fostering a greater understanding of the overlap of each others' worlds and how we can unite to strengthen our nation’s security posture.

After all, if you are a government cyber professional under investigation for a breach that occurred on your watch, you had better hope that the person defending you has an understanding of cyber principles. And if you are an attorney who calls a cyber security professional to the stand as an expert in a cyber criminal investigation, you’d better hope that your expert knows how to adequately educate an investigative team and to clearly communicate findings to a judge and jury.

There is clearly a need for a cyber security community that is well-versed in legal and ethical principles and a legal community that is well-versed in security principles. This is why (ISC)2 has made an investment in professionalizing digital forensics experts. For the sake of every chief information security officer, IT manager or business owner who is directly or indirectly tied to a security incident, let's continue to encourage collaboration and education among these two professional communities and to advance the skills of those who are on the front lines of digital investigation.

After all, if you have to "bring your own attorney," you’d better make certain he has a thorough understanding of your role and responsibilities, how they relate to your organization’s cyber practices, the enemies you face and the current threat environments.

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2013

About the Author(s)

W. Hord Tipton

Contributor

W. Hord Tipton, CISSP-ISSEP, CAP, CISA, CNSS, is currently the executive director for (ISC)2, the not-for-profit global leader in information security education and certification. Tipton previously served as chief information officer for the U.S. Department of the Interior for over five years. Mr. Tipton can be reached at [email protected].

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