Data sharing and interoperability are key for mitigating cyber attacks

The EU Agency ENISA launches its new report – Detect, SHARE, Protection on how to make data threat exchange easier and better between the “digital fire brigades” (i.e. CERTs.)

The Agency concludes that improving information sharing must build on existing solutions and standardisation efforts in data exchange formats, so as to make them interoperable.

Despite fruitful cooperation, CERTs still face obstacles when it comes to the smooth exchange and sharing of security information. Legal and technical barriers as well as lack of interest from cybersecurity stakeholders regarding the sharing of information represent the key problems for the effective exchange of information.

The Executive Director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht commented: “The increasing complexity of cyber-attacks requires more effective cross-border information sharing among Computer Emergency Response Teams. Effective information sharing saves time and effort in incident response and post-mortem analysis. It also increases synergies and aligns the best practices among the CERTs.”

Local detection, accompanied by trusted forms of information exchange, leads to the global prevention of cyber-attacks. It is thus very beneficial for the successful identification and subsequent handling of an incident, if it has already been detected by CERTs sharing this information, and this information is shared.

Moreover, much progress has been made recently in establishing national/governmental (n/g) CERTs in Europe to coordinate responses to cyber-attacks. As cyber-attacks are often global, it is crucial that incident responses are coordinated not only within national boundaries, but also on an international level. Therefore, secure and effective exchange of information concerning such incidents must take place.

The report identifies the emerging tools and standards that would help CERTs with the efficient sharing of strategic incident information. ENISA has identified a set of recommendations for the CERT community and other security actors for better data exchange practices:

  • Facilitating adoption, interoperability and enhancing functionalities of Essential Tools for the CERT Community
  • Promoting the stability and continuity of incident feeds, which are often changed without prior notice
  • Promoting the use of standards for data exchange
  • Enhancing the functionality of existing tools.
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