Language and Definitions are Key to Setting Open Standards for Cybersecurity

Posted on June 28th, 2017

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The fundamental root of understanding and relating to each other is reliable communication. Since the beginning of time, humankind has worked towards a fixed and agreed upon way to share and exchange information. Even so, we’ve all been on the receiving end of miscommunication. It can be as complex as speaking completely different languages to something as simple as misusing a common term of phrase or even using an inside joke with an unfamiliar audience. Regardless of the level, miscommunication can be extremely frustrating and certainly impede progress.

Recently, an article from the online publication Dark Reading discussed the critical need for a more fully engaged cross-industry dialog within the context of cybersecurity in order to truly overcome cyber security risks. The article states, “to successfully fight threats across industries, we must all use the same terminology.”  To us, that means there also is a fundamental need for an increase in standardization across the industry, beginning with the basics of language and definitions.

By creating a consistent framework that begins with language, those working within that framework will be able to work more efficiently. In another recent blog post on Andrew L. Russell’s book Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks, we discussed how, by making everyone follow the same rules, it opens up more opportunity for innovation. By standardizing terms and the basic ways we define things, we begin to “speak the same language” and can move forward faster, innovating within the common vernacular framework.

Similar to cybersecurity, where there are ‘at least 16 different definitions of the term “cyber attack” globally’, the internet at large has a massive number of different terms and definitions for the same concepts. Miscommunication can often lead to mistrust and an overall breakdown in progress. “Without a common language in cybersecurity, we can’t achieve intelligent information-sharing both within a single organization or between the complex web of vendors and solutions in today’s market. Lack of defined key terms is blocking the industry from effectively implementing anything beyond passive defensive mechanisms.” The same can be said outside of cybersecurity and across the board, reinstating the need for unified standards.  

The OpenStand principles work by understanding and respecting the “autonomy, integrity, processes, and intellectual property rules of the others.” However, before that respect can be realized, there must be a common understanding when it comes to terms and definitions – a standardization of that area.  

What are your thoughts on the overarching need for more standardization in the industry, starting with language and definitions? Leave them in the comments below!

If you’re interested in learning more about OpenStand, check out our OpenStand infographics.

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