The open standard that is unlocking zero trust collaboration with allies

Remember, strong data security isn't a barrier. It's a necessary — and cost-effective —  bridge to a brighter future.

In today’s hyperconnected world, information is the lifeblood of progress. In all sectors, not just defense, the ability to securely share data allows for faster, safer and more expansive innovation to occur.

Yet a pervasive fear of breaches and misuse casts a long shadow, hindering the full potential of information exchange. We need a paradigm shift, one where robust data security becomes the foundation for open and trusting information sharing, not a barrier to it.

This may seem counterintuitive: You might assume that stricter security not only costs more, but also creates friction, slowing down collaboration and innovation. But the reality is far more nuanced. In truth, stronger data security isn’t an impediment, it’s the missing piece that empowers legitimately responsible and valuable information sharing, and at a cheaper cost. 

It’s time to shed the legacy mindset that says collaboration can only occur when security standards become lax. We now have affordable technology and open standards that allow us to set a much higher — and more secure — bar for zero trust data sharing among our allies. Here’s why this paradigm shift deserves your attention. 

  1. We must protect what matters: The most immediate benefit of strong data security is clear – it safeguards privacy and prevents harm. Sensitive information, from medical records to defense and IP data, deserves robust protection. Breaches can have devastating consequences, leading to identity theft, financial loss and even physical harm. Watertight security measures like encryption, access controls and automated auditing minimize these risks, fostering a climate of trust where individuals and organizations feel comfortable sharing. 
  1. To stay competitive on the global stage, we can’t sacrifice collaboration: Beyond individual protection, data security also strengthens collaborative efforts. Imagine a defense research consortium where scientists can freely share findings without fear of intellectual property theft. Or consider a healthcare network where data scientists and doctors can seamlessly access patient data in emergencies, irrespective of institutional boundaries. With secure data sharing platforms, such scenarios become possible, facilitating breakthroughs and improving efficiency across diverse fields. 
  1. We can boost defense innovation at a lower cost: The economic impact of secure information sharing is undeniable. Studies show that a lack of trust in data security hinders innovation while costing more for more security boundaries and replicating data across enclaves. This means that loosening our data protection standards costs us more than it would to simply put secure collaboration tools in place. Conversely, secure data exchange paves the way for new product development, enhanced services, and a thriving data-driven economy — without sacrificing collaboration or security. In a world where we’re constantly on our back foot playing defense, it is time for offense that will put points on the board by driving maximum value out of our most valuable asset.
  1. Compliance and legal clarity mitigate your risk: The legal landscape surrounding data privacy is evolving rapidly. Data security measures strengthen compliance with regulations like the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, protecting organizations from hefty fines and legal repercussions. Clear and enforceable data protection laws further contribute to a secure environment, fostering responsible data practices and building trust amongst stakeholders. 
  1. Open standards like zero trust data format (ZTDF) tie together granular access control and encryption: True data security transcends mere protection; it empowers individuals and organizations to have control over their data no matter where it resides. Imagine a reality where data owners can maintain total control and autonomy over their data long after it has left their IT boundary. In healthcare, this means individuals easily accessing and managing their personal information, granting consent for its use with granular access control. In defense, it would enable nations to share data on their terms with their own policies and control regimes.

Now imagine a powerful tool that accelerates this journey towards secure and collaborative information sharing. This is already happening today thanks to ZTDF, the NATO open standard. 

Why ZTDF is embraced by NATO for secure cross-border collaboration

ZTDF leverages innovative attribute-based access controls (ABAC) and cryptography to ensure that only authorized individuals can access specific data attributes, even within a shared or federated environment across allies. This granular control goes beyond traditional permission-based systems, offering unparalleled security and flexibility. 

ZTDF’s impact is already being felt globally. Notably, NATO nations have adopted the ZTDF standard for secure information sharing among member states. This move underscores the transformative potential of ZTDF in fostering trust and collaboration within high-stakes environments. 

By leveraging ZTDF alongside the holistic approach outlined above, we can unlock the true potential of secure information sharing:

  • Reduced friction, increased trust: ZTDF simplifies secure data exchange, enabling faster and more efficient collaboration without compromising data integrity.
  • Enhanced compliance: ZTDF facilitates compliance with complex data privacy regulations, minimizing legal risks and fostering trust with stakeholders.
  • Empowered individuals, thriving businesses: Individuals gain control over their data, while businesses unlock new opportunities for innovation and collaboration. 

Remember, strong data security isn’t a barrier. It’s a necessary — and cost-effective —  bridge to a brighter future. By utilizing ZTDF, we are building a world where information flows freely and securely, empowering individuals, organizations and nations to collaborate and innovate like never before.

Shannon Vaughn is general manager of Virtru Federal.

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