How Crowdsourcing Can Help Fight Against Cyber Threats

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe coined the phrase, “precaution is better than cure,” and nowhere is that more true than in cybersecurity. Discovering weaknesses and loopholes before hackers can save you from devastating data breaches, data theft, loss of money and also reputation damage can be key to saving you and your company's data.

While it's important for businesses that every employee take responsibility on some level for contributing to efforts to safeguard information, physical assets and other property, executives are looking outside for help via threat information sharing and other collaborative efforts to combat threats. This new strategy of security “crowdsourcing” could be an answer to fending off threats.

Why We Need Crowdsourcing for Cybersecurity

The phenomenon of crowdsourcing has now joined hands with security and their alliance has rather resulted in fruitful results. The whole idea behind crowdsourcing cybersecurity is to bring together the best minds, the best technology and best practices to present an unprejudiced observation of impending vulnerabilities, and re-mediate them quickly and effectively.

According to research the cost of cyber crimes will skyrocket to $6 trillion annually by 2021. Cyber attacks are emerging in different faces and shapes affecting the corporate, healthcare centers several other sectors of the economy.

To combat these attacks, what do we really have at our disposal? The world at present faces a scarcity of cyber security experts. It has been reported that by 2019 there will be a 2 million shortage of cybersecurity professionals internationally.

So the idea of crowdsourcing and accumulating skilled and intelligent individuals to work together to fight off cyber crime is a reliable solution.

Three Types of Cybersecurity Crowdsourcing

Cybersecurity and crowdsourcing still have a long way to go but it is already being practiced in many forms.

Collaborating for a Specific Cause

Collaboration is the act of working together towards a common goal. Collaboration could be done for several reasons such as creativity, productivity or idea generation, etc. The method works best when everyone’s working to achieve a single objective. In the case of cybersecurity, collaboration is implemented when cyber security experts and specialists join hands and pool in their skills to strengthen networks and fight the looming threats.

Sharing Intelligence

Another very effective form of crowdsourcing is intelligence sharing. It combines the individual brilliance with the intellect of government and private entities. Both parties share their intelligence regarding cybersecurity and team up together to combat cyber security threats by blocking off potential online threats.

Offering Bounty-Based Collaboration

Used by a number of tech titans such as Microsoft, Google and Apple, bounty-based collaboration is one of the most popular form of cybersecurity crowdsourcing.

Companies invite security experts on campus to audit and purposefully hack their security. In exchange of finding vulnerabilities in a product, the testers are rewarded. The security vulnerabilities are tested in a controlled environment, usually by a select group of expert testers.

The “Ifs and Buts”of Cybersecurity Crowdsourcing

In spite of the many incredible advantages of the cybersecurity crowdsourcing, a certain school of thoughts holds a differing opinion.

If you’re a rookie in the cybersecurity game, you may accidentally let cyber criminals pass while working in a collaborative campaign. Worst case scenario could be a hacker getting the hold of a code shared by the security expert and reverse-engineer it to cause destruction .

Nevertheless, the potential present in the mutual power of cybersecurity and crowdsourcing cannot be overlooked. In the end, the implementation of crowdsourcing is only bringing together the greatest minds and resources to put their combined efforts to fight off cyber threats. After all, the more the merrier. A crowd can show a significantly higher efficiency level in fighting against massive cyber threats than a single entity does all by itself.

Read more about preventing cyber threats at TechCo

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Written by:
Anas Baig is a Cyber Security Journalist & Tech Writer. He has been featured on major media outlets including TheGuardian, Lifehacker Australia, CSO, ITProPortal, Infosec Magazine, Developer and many others. He writes about online security and privacy, IoT, AI, and Big Data. If you’d like to get in touch, please send an email to or follow him on Twitter @anasbaigdm.
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