Sharing is Caring

By Aimée Larsen-Kirkpatrick

My daughter turned three this past week. As any parent knows, sharing is a bit of an issue. A constant battle that is never won but addressed over and over again. At the end of the big celebration, most of the guests gone, we opened the gifts. My cousin and her two little boys were still around. Wyatt, the oldest at six, was anxious and excited to see the gifts opened. He stood patiently to the side as each package was unwrapped. His unbridled enthusiasm was fun to watch. A small, inconspicuous package was opened – in it was the coolest present ever: an inexpensive set of finger puppet monsters. Wyatt was over the moon excited. He couldn’t contain himself any longer. He wanted to see them, hold them, give them a little test drive.

“NO! Mine!” was my daughter’s immediate reaction. The finger puppets were hers (without question), and she was not going to let anyone else touch them. Wyatt’s face crumpled. His enthusiasm went out like a light. All he had wanted was to look at them for a couple of minutes. After several stern talks, my daughter handed over the puppets, and they were soon forgotten in the flurry of tissue paper and ribbons. And Wyatt was overjoyed. A few minutes later it was time for him to leave. He carefully handed back the puppets – no coaching needed.

The past few weeks I’ve traveled to Spain and was in a meeting in Scottsdale with fellow cyber security professionals. I’ve talked to more people than I can count. Collaboration and sharing is a constant topic – from presentations, panel discussions and side bar conversations. It’s like our collective mother is whispering in our ear: Share. Work Together. It’s been well-established and written about many times: no one person, organization or government can solve the cyber security epidemic on their own. We must work together, share resources, share information. Collaborate. But at the end of the day, sharing is hard. Despite years of being repeatedly told to share – from the playground to the classroom and well into our adult lives, sharing doesn’t come easy for individuals, corporations, or governments.

We must take a step back and decide: What cost of cybercrime are we willing to bear? Do we really value sharing as much as we say we do? Is it possible to come together more genuinely and share just a little bit more?

GCA is deeply invested in a model of collaboration and sharing. We aren’t trying to step on anyone’s toes (although it’s possible that from time to time that will happen). We are trying to establish a coalition of the willing. Organizations that are willing to set aside ego and try to do something as a collective force. There are plenty of workgroups and task forces. And many of them do good work. But we need more. More investment – not just of time – but of genuine resources that can build and distribute the tools that will help reduce cyber risk.  Sharing is hard. But solving big problems – and cyber security is one of the biggest facing our world today – is hard. It takes commitment, resources and a willingness to genuinely collaborate. Let’s put aside our inner three-year olds and see if we all can’t share more to make a real and measurable difference – to make a real impact.

The author, Aimée Larsen-Kirkpatrick, is the Global Communications Officer at the Global Cyber Alliance. You can connect with Aimée on LinkedIn.