The critical role of thought leadership in cybersecurity

by Mihoko Matsubara

05 August 2020

People working together in an IT environment

As cyber-risk grows, many organizations are struggling to keep up with the continuously changing threat landscape, and absolute security can feel like an impossible goal. The constant, new swath of tactics designed for intentional harm increases by the hour. Today, with so much more of our lives and information online, keeping ahead of the threats means access to decisive and strategic cyber threat intelligence and insights matters more than ever. As a business, if you don’t have excellent visibility, information, and understanding of the state of the cyber threat landscape, how can you properly manage your risks?

People collaborating in a work environment

Clients are seeking unique value to empower them and help their decision-making process

The need for strategic value through shared insights and knowledge

In recent times, cybersecurity has evolved from being viewed as an information technology function into a strategic role tasked with securing an organization’s operations, rapidly responding to threats, and providing strategic insights and counsel to senior leaders. The stakes are high; the reputational and financial consequences from cybersecurity breaches are significant. Offering security products and services isn’t enough anymore. Clients are looking for unique value through authority, insights, and perspectives to empower them and help their decision-making process.

Six years ago, NTT formed a cybersecurity thought leadership team, led by Shinichi Yokohama, who is now Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and reports to the NTT Senior Executive Vice President. This decision aligned our security efforts with the organization’s broader goals and Hiroo Unoura, former NTT President and CEO, firmly believed that together we share a collective responsibility to combat cyberattacks and contribute to global cyber resiliency. If we’re going to be successful at mitigating cyber-risks, the need to share and discuss ways of approaching cybersecurity cannot be isolated to one person or department, but rather a shared responsibility. As of today, NTT is the only Japan-based global company which has a cybersecurity thought leadership team.

Strengthening cyber resiliency through information, data and insights

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Filtering information gathered from the world’s leading cybersecurity voices back to NTT’s executive team creates a structure that facilitates richer dialogues and learnings across the business

Recognizing clients’ need to access the latest security thinking through trusted sources, our cybersecurity thought leadership team shares expertise gathered across domestic-Japan and international activities within the industry, government, academia, and experts via conferences, face-to-face meetings, publications, public comments to government policy proposals. Beyond procuring intelligence, the team shares its learnings and observations around the world at Chatham House in London, Cyber Week in Israel, CyCon in Estonia, Munich Cyber Security Conference in Germany, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, RSA Conference in the US and Singapore International Cyber Week. Filtering information gathered from the world’s leading cybersecurity voices back to NTT’s executive team creates a structure that facilitates richer dialogues and learnings across the business.

Cyber threat intelligence has become the foundation to allow business leaders to decide what kind of actions they should take to protect both their company and clients. As a technology leader, we are aware of our responsibility to gather and share what we know and learn, not only for our clients but the public and industry. Sharing findings of cybersecurity trends across client networks, systems, and platforms offers distinct viewpoints for the wider community. With NTT being responsible for around 40% of the world’s internet traffic, our Global Threat Intelligence Report, which is available to everyone, provides valuable learnings on the current state of play, as well as guidance on how to better prepare for the future.

Strong together; creating cybersecurity alliances

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The ecosystem of thought leaders is a shared commitment to work together, building greater trust, resiliency, and mitigating risks

We believe that increased collaboration in sharing best practices and insights can make the wider community stronger and more cyber resilient. Industry-driven coalitions are critical to driving innovative thinking in this space. That is why NTT became one of the founding members to launch the Council to Secure Digital Economy. Together with other global tech companies, the Information Technology Industry Council, and USTelecom in 2018, the coalition tackles the ever-growing cyber threats and share best practices to address botnets and Internet of Things issues with the world. Furthermore, NTT joined the Cybersecurity Tech Accord in 2019 and the Charter of Trust in 2020 to shape industry-driven cybersecurity resiliency. This ecosystem of thought leaders is a shared commitment and investment to work together to drive collective actions that can build greater trust, resiliency and mitigate risks.

Our cybersecurity thought leadership activities sometimes cover broader issues to share best practices to manage risks and the latest trend of technology in general. When operations are disrupted at a critical infrastructure company, it can be caused by a cyberattack, IT system breakdown, or a natural disaster. Because Japan is prone to a wide variety of natural disasters including earthquakes, flooding, and typhoon, the Group has accumulated its expertise to deal with those risks to protect its critical infrastructure. The NTT Washington DC Representative Office has been working with Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) USA to speak about NTT’s experiences, to mitigate risks associated with natural disasters at the Disaster Prevention and Recovery Summit in different parts of the US over the year to help American critical infrastructure companies.

Last year, the NTT Washington DC Representative Office also launched a series of breakfast meetings with technical subject matter experts, inviting DC academia and industry people. Unfortunately, technical and policy people do not see eye to eye because both of the fields require deep knowledge about their subject. Nevertheless, mutual understanding is crucial to develop practical policy on technology and usable technology for countries to adopt.

NTT is committed to strengthening the world’s cyber resiliency. While the amount of knowledge and intelligence within one organization is limited and we are increasingly reliant on IT during the coronavirus pandemic, we believe that working together and more active participation across all industries will get us closer to better protecting our digital world.

More from Mihoko Matusbara:

Enterprise Times: https://www.enterprisetimes.co.uk/2019/07/18/mihoko-matsubara-talks-about-cyber-security-strategy-at-ntt/

CSIS podcast: https://www.csis.org/podcasts/does-not-compute/cybersecurity-japan

Mihoko Matsubara

Mihoko Matsubara