Sometimes military priorities can run afoul of creating stable global norms, especially in cyberspace. However, as one Canadian general asserted, collectively ensuring a better cybersecurity ecosystem is mutually beneficial to all.

Addressing CyberCon 2017 — hosted by Federal Times Nov. 28 in Arlington, Virginia — Brig. Gen. S.M. Lacroix, director general of the Secretariat of the Inter-American Defense Board, noted that collectively ensuring a better cybersecurity ecosystem abroad, and in his case the Americas, makes the U.S., Canada and North America a safer place to live, to do business and ensure prosperity.

While the cybersecurity agenda is being discussed more and more, he noted that investing in defense runs up against many competing priorities of nation states. In Canada’s case, this includes health and education, while for many Third World or developing nations “investing in cybersecurity is a great idea and probably somewhat essential, but it doesn’t compete very well against other pressing priorities.”

The desire to invest in cyber is increasing, but these competing priorities pose challenges, he said. In addition to mere spending, he noted in his presentation that education, training and recruitment are also critical to success.

Within the Western Hemisphere, only eight nations have “something that resembles a cybersecurity strategy.” These nations include Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Colombia, Jamaica, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

Some of these strategies are quite sophisticated and resourced while some are essentially “a piece of paper with a lot of words on it.”

More importantly, he said, 16 of the countries in the Western Hemisphere have absolutely nothing in terms of a strategy.

Lacroix was also careful to express that this is not a military problem; adding the military is part of the problem and the solution. Government needs to be involved but, importantly, industry must be a critical member at the table.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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