Cyber security to improve corporate and national defense

Cyber Security to Improve Corporate and National Defense

March 2011

Each year, the scope and sophistication of cyber attacks—information security breaches—on individuals, businesses and entire nations broadens and becomes more persistent. Costs and risks are rising accordingly, touching upon matters of national security for every country in the world. Traditional approaches to countering cyber risk, which focus largely on technology and systems, are no longer adequate to the task by themselves. Companies and governments must take a more holistic approach, encompassing not only IT but also business processes, people and a more integrated and cooperative strategy between the public and private sectors. 

Threats are mounting—and are costly. In the United States alone, identity theft and fraud cost citizens and businesses $54 billion annually. One estimate puts the worldwide costs at $221 billion. Cybercrime in general—a range of online criminal activity covering intellectual property theft, espionage, extortion, and online theft and fraud—is growing around the world. Businesses in the United Kingdom are losing £27 billion ($43 billion) annually; cybercrime in Japan is growing at more than 15 percent annually. The global cost may be as much as $1 trillion per year.

Recently, as the types of attacks have increased in sophistication—and as the list of perpetrators has grown to include organized crime, industrial spies and even criminals sponsored by nation states—the stakes have increased commensurately.Governments have become more aware that their national security is at risk, especially as defense and critical infrastructure capabilities become more reliant on integrated information networks.


In this video, Accenture's Bill Phelps discusses 5 key principles that help IT organizations detect and address cyber threats.

Download Transcript [PDF, 89KB]

Media Help


From an individual perspective, information security risks affect the quality of life. So much of the way we live, work, shop and communicate is now online; people want to be assured that their governments and the enterprises with which they do business can offer a protected cyber environment.

From an individual perspective, information security risks affect the quality of life. So much of the way we live, work, shop and communicate is now online; people want to be assured that their governments and the enterprises with which they do business can offer a protected cyber environment.

Multiple reports highlight the risks that all nations now face. A 2009 paper from the Australian Department of Defense, “Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030,” notes that national security “could potentially be compromised by cyber attacks on our defense, wider governmental, commercial or infrastructure-related information networks.” The report mentions the threat of “aggressive intelligence collection operations” in the same sentence as missile strikes, air attacks and special-forces raids. The government in the UK has recognized cyber attacks as “top tier” threats. South Korea recently repelled a coordinated series of cyber attacks on institutions and organizations, including government ministries and a military headquarters.

Another defense-oriented report from Australia published by the Kokoda Foundation in sponsorship with Accenture, “Optimising Australia's Response to the Cyber Challenge,” warns that cyber attacks could endanger critical infrastructure such as electricity grids, water storage and distribution, aviation and maritime transport and telecommunications networks. The Australian government has been proactive in addressing threats, including the development of its 2009 Cyber Security Strategy. However, the report concludes that the country is not keeping pace with the growing threat; as a result, collective and individual security is at risk.

Taking a broader-based approach to the cyber challenge
Both private- and public-sector organizations need to integrate their cyber attack planning and response capabilities across four key dimensions:

  • Prevention consists of actions that reduce risk from human-caused events. Prevention planning identifies actions that minimize the possibility that an event will occur or that it will weaken the security of businesses or a nation’s people.

  • Protection is focused on reducing or lessening the impact of cyber security threats. Protection includes actions to mitigate the risk to critical infrastructure assets, systems and networks.

  • Response refers to actions taken in the immediate aftermath of a cyber security event to reduce the impact on critical infrastructure and information. Response planning provides rapid and disciplined incident assessment to ensure that response is quickly scalable, adaptable and flexible.

  • Recovery looks at both short- and long-term efforts to rebuild and revitalize infrastructure and agencies affected by a cyber attack.

Only by integrating efforts across all four of these areas can organizations and governments create an effective cyber security planning and response structure. This means that the overall focus must broaden beyond a purely technology-oriented approach—as important as that is—to a more comprehensive program that includes people, process and technology.

People: The educational imperative
People are often the weakest link in ongoing prevention of cyber attacks or security breaches. As more people—employees, vendors and customers—gain access to data, this risk increases. Thus, mastering the ability to determine whether customers, citizens, suppliers or employees are who they claim to be when they access enterprise systems and facilities is crucial to enterprise performance.

Creating stronger cultural attributes supports an organization in taking security seriously. Successful organizations make responsibilities and accountabilities for cyber security explicit, create strong security training programs, tie rewards to effective security management and have defined ramifications for breaches of policy.

In addition, the broader national security threat posed by cyber attacks must be met by more effective communications and education initiatives across an entire nation. Programs must be in place to keep the public aware of information security threats and knowledgeable about the steps they can take to aid the cause. Such programs might include youth education, adult training, enhancements to university curriculums and mechanisms to help share information about security threats.

Processes and structures: Integrated capabilities
New kinds of process designs and organization structures must be in place today to improve the ability of companies and governments to respond to cyber attacks, as well as to prevent them from occurring. For example, from a national defense perspective, cyber security planning and response must be vertically integrated to ensure that all levels of government—local, state/territorial, regional and federal/national—have a common operational focus. And because cyberspace honors few national boundaries, governance structures must also extend to the international arena, helping different national entities to communicate and cooperate more effectively.

At the same time, cyber security and planning must be horizontally integrated. Such integration serves two purposes. First, it integrates the operations of related departments, agencies and non-government organizations. Second, it ensures that one department’s operational plans work with other departments so they can support and assist each other as necessary toward the common cause of better information security.

Technology: The importance of being proactive
As part of a holistic approach to cyber protection, technology and tools must be refocused on proactive capabilities that reduce the time needed to respond to attacks. Two important innovations in this area are in cyber intelligence and dynamic cyber defense.

Cyber intelligence is critical to defending against attack because malware, destructive code, worms and viruses can now proliferate faster than ever. Using enhanced intelligence, an organization can couple early warnings with sound decision making to yield a strong command-and-control apparatus and response capability.

Dynamic cyber defense augments traditional security by combining advancements in analytics, predictive security mechanisms and decision-making tools. Technologies are increasingly available that can help organizations “see over the horizon” to obtain advance warnings of potential threats. The development of a centralized computer incident response center is also critical for risk detection, management and tracking. These technologies are critical to helping a company or government get out in front of cyber attacks instead of constantly having to react only in crisis mode.

New forms of public-private cooperation
The new structures, processes and educational programs that help organizations respond more effectively to cyber threats will require new models of public-private cooperation. Collaborative approaches will need to include government, business, academia, non-government entities and the broader citizenry.

For example, working with the US government, Accenture has formed the Secure Enterprise Network Consortium (SEN-C), which is helping to define and advance dynamic cyber defense for the intelligence community. Members also include Cisco, Computer Associates, Sun Microsystems and Los Alamos National Laboratories. The consortium‘s goal is to promote interaction and collaboration with the government to develop innovative and comprehensive solutions for cyber security. SEN-C also provides research and development capabilities.

Conclusion: Countering the evolving threat
Given the dynamic and rapidly changing nature of cyber threats, the challenge to protect enterprises, governments and a nation’s people and resources is also continuously evolving. Technology is a critical part of the overall defense plan, but it cannot do everything. What’s important, then, are broader protective measures: training and education, communications, culture and leadership, and structures that embed better cyber security into the way people work and live. These broader capabilities will be critical to enterprise success—and to the defense of nations and their way of life.

About the authors
Paul O’Rourke leads Accenture’s Asia Pacific risk and information security practice. 

Matt Gollings is a senior executive with Accenture Australia’s defense and national security practice. 

To Top

 This Article is Tagged: Technology/Information Technology.
Related Outlook Content
How secure is your confidential data?
February 2010
How secure is your confidential data?

A company’s approach to data protection and privacy should be more than legally compliant. It must be global, and core to the organization’s business value proposition and culture.

Read More

Also on



Cyber Threats: Why You Need to Mount a Defense - Video


In this video, Accenture's Bill Phelps discusses 5 key principles that help IT organizations detect and address cyber threats.

Media Help


Download Transcript [89KB]
PDF Help



  About the authors

  Subscribe to Accenture Outlook

Download the Accenture Outlook journal for iPad® app

Follow Us
Like Outlook on Facebook
Follow Accenture on Twitter

Cyber security to improve corporate and national defense - Accenture Outlook 
Cyber security is now a concern not only to enterprises but to national defense. Effective planning and response must harness advanced technologies, but also a broader approach encompassing processes, education, culture, leadership and collaboration.
cyber security, cyber crime
Yes  Yes 
By using this site you agree that we can place cookies on your device. See our privacy statement for details.