The blog post is made of two excerpts from previous confidential documents distributed amongst UK and Regional Stakeholders in the East Midlands (UK). The documents highlighted the existence of evidence that information security could provide a competitive advantage in the information economy and that this could support economic and social prosperity. These arguments were part of the business case for developing and implementing, what I called, Integrated Regional Information Security Strategies (IRISS). These are the pre-cursors to what are now recognised as Regional Cyber Security Strategies. If you would like to use these arguments please do refer back to this article and author.
How valuable is information within the information society? How valuable are the characteristics of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information within the information economy? What risks does getting anyone of these characteristics wrong pose to a single organisation, several thousand organisations, whole industry sectors, maybe whole economies and societies?
Switzerland has based much of its economic and social prosperity on confidentiality. It turned a culture of confidentiality into a market differentiator enabling it to compete effectively, over hundreds of years, to attract business and investment, to develop its private sector and drive economic and social prosperity. The success of this economy has enabled Switzerland to develop and maintain public services that are the envy of many and have placed it in the top 5 countries in the world to live in. What could such benefits do for the UK or a region within the UK?
Switzerland’s feature of secrecy related to a very small target audience. It concerned secrecy, or confidentiality, of a very small quantity of information in the overall scale of information across the globe. This was financial and personal information. Global corporations moved to, and invested in, Switzerland bringing jobs, wealth, health and stability. The number of local businesses grew and they prospered supplying these corporations head offices.
If a single nation can turn the confidentiality of a small category of information into a whole economic sector, which has under pinned much of its economic and social prosperity, what could be done with a broader category of information deemed important enough by a much larger target market? Could the UK or a region within the UK leverage the increasing concerns that both business and governments have regarding the value of information assets and the risks associated with them?
What if by leveraging this opportunity you could not only create a competitive advantage within the global information economy but could also help reduce organised crime, the threat to national security from sovereign states and terrorist organisations and the UK’s economic strengths and intellectual property. How would this contribute not only to economic but also social prosperity?
The argument above is one of the principles behind IRISS, the Integrated Regional Information Security Strategy. IRISS was first presented to stakeholders in the EU, UK and East Midlands 6 years ago. It was a concept ahead of its time which received some initial funding from the then UK CyberSecurity KTN a joint government/private sector stakeholder with close connections to the UK’s Technology Strategy Board.
In my opinion the Swiss scenario highlights that there is a case for arguing that the characteristics of confidentiality, integrity and availability, which underpin the discipline of information security, can, and have contributed to nation states, industry sectors, individual businesses and citizens economic and social prosperity.
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