TechRepublic’s Dan Patterson spoke to attorney and former CIA case officer Jack Rice to discuss why private corporations and the US government should work close together to defend against cyberattacks.

Patterson:There is a 3D chess game that is going on between governments, business, and various assets within those institutions. Jack, if I run a company right now, or if I’m high up at state, or at the United Nations, or an executive, a C-level at a large corporation, how do I protect my data and my information? What should I take away from the reality that there is a 3D chess game going on with state actors and my data is the target?

Rice:Now, one of the first issues that I think that if I were at the corporate level, at the senior corporate level, I would stay and try to establish closer connections and relationships with those within the US government. I mean it, because this is actually about understanding what those threats are. One of the concerns that I have, ever frankly, is anytime what we try to do, and this isn’t the question of Republicans or Democrats, but what we’re starting to do is target our own intelligence organizations in the government and weakening their legitimacy, it actually makes us more vulnerable. I’m not saying we don’t really highlight where we have failed, but we need to make sure that we start doing a better job inside of the US government so those partnerships between private corporations and the government actually work more succinctly, more accurately, and most importantly more effectively. I think that would be a starting point.

SEE: Defending against cyberwar: How the cybersecurity elite are working to prevent a digital apocalypse (PDF download) (TechRepublic cover story)

There also needs to be more cooperation, and here’s the dicey part, more cooperation within various components of private industry. They can actually work together not in order to compete against one another necessarily, because let’s face it, that’s what competition is, but it’s also about sharing information about the threats that are out there for both of them. Because I tell you what, if you see foreign actors actually working against one and you keep it to yourself, they’re going to work everybody else too. So this is about something far broader than just you siting back by yourself saying, “Gosh. What do I do right now? How do I sell another widget? How do I sell two widgets?” This is about something far worse than that because you could sell 20 widgets and all your profits could end up in a bank some place that you could never track. Ever.