The number of data breaches through the third quarter of 2021 is up 17% over the previous year combined, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. A study by IBM and the Ponemon Institute says the cost of the average data breach is up to $4.24 million, up from $3.86 million in 2020. Some estimates say cyberattacks could cost businesses and government agencies $6 trillion in 2021 alone, with that number rising dramatically in the years to come.

With hacks coming from foreign governments and small groups of cybercriminals alike, a question remains—who’s responsible for preventing these attacks, the government or the corporations? According to Kiersten Todt, the Chief of Staff of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a federal agency operating under the Department of Homeland Security, the only way forward is to have businesses and the government fighting this digital war together. That’s why CISA launched the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative initiative in August, a public-private partnership to help boost cybersecurity with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all taking part.

“What this is doing is sort of taking that approach and turning it on its side because it’s really about operational collaboration,” Todt said at the Fortune CEO Initiative conference in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. “I’ve had a lot of thinking around, ‘Is this a concept that could have succeeded a few years ago?’ and I’m not actually sure that it could have because one of the things that SolarWinds demonstrated was that the private sector has enormous intelligence capability on each of its own companies. Government has capabilities in understanding nation-state activity.” Todt noted the marriage of government and corporate capabilities to detect, prevent, and share information about an attack before it happens is at the heart of operational collaboration. ”This operational collaboration has already been put into effect and has had some successes, and it is going to expand out to different companies,” said Todt.

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