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Use Special Ops, Intelligence to Stop Private Sector Threats

Private-sector businesses by cybercriminals as easy pickings.

Edward Gately

February 9, 2024

4 Min Read
Private sector security threats include cyber espionage
PabloLagarto/Shutterstock

Private-sector businesses face a diverse spectrum of hybrid threats, challenges and obstacles.

Those include mounting cyber, physical, extremist and nation-state threats. So how can these businesses protect themselves?

In this Channel Partners Conference & Expo session titled, “Master Your Domain: Using Special Operations and Intelligence Practices Into the Private Sector,” March 12, attendees will learn how to overcome these challenges through the implementation of specialized tactics and techniques developed and utilized by U.S. Special Operations Forces and CIA operational teams.

Bob Dougherty, retired CIA operations officer and CEO of Tartarus Intel, and Kevin McDonald, COO and CISO of Alvaka, will present the session. They’ll offer a unique and innovative way to mitigate, reduce and overcome these multiple challenges.

Threats Targeting the Private Sector

In a Q&A, Dougherty and McDonald provide a sneak peek of what they’ll share with attendees.

Channel Futures: What sorts of cyber, physical, extremist and nation-state threats are private sector businesses facing? Are these threats increasing?

McDonald: Cyber includes data breaches, ransomware, malware and espionage. Physical includes theft, sabotage, terrorism and physical damage resulting from cyberattacks. Extremist includes ideologically motivated attacks, violence and extreme dedication to their cause. Nation-state includes espionage, economic disruption, infrastructure attacks, theft of critical military and competitive secrets.

Related:Register for CP Expo/MSP Summit 2024, March 11-14, Las Vegas

CF: How are the threats different from those faced by public companies?

McDonald: Public companies face additional scrutiny and regulations. They are seen as the bigger prize and far more impactful when trying to make a political statement or win a technical arms race. On the other hand, the private sector, and especially the small and middle market, are seen as easy pickings.

Public companies face additional regulations and scrutiny regarding data breaches and security practices. Private companies may have more flexibility in responding to threats, but lack the same level of oversight.

CF: What are the specialized tactics and techniques developed and utilized by U.S. Special Operations Forces and CIA operational teams?

Bob Dougherty: We will be providing an overview of selected tactics, techniques and operational/management best practices from U.S. Special Operations Forces and CIA operational teams in our breakout session. The best practices we will illuminate are pertinent and relevant for utilization in the private and public sectors, and offer a unique and innovative way to improve business efficiency and success.

McDonald: General Special Ops tactics include deception, infiltration, unconventional warfare and high-budget, technically savvy personnel with the rights to do things outside of what a civilian can do legally and technically.

CF: What does it take for private businesses to implement these tactics and techniques? Can it be done with limited budgets and resources?

Dougherty: The short answer is yes. The majority of these tactics, techniques, best practices and operational/management philosophies do not require significant resources in terms of money or personnel.

McDonald: Private adoption challenges include:

  • Legality – Some tactics may violate laws or ethical codes, limiting their applicability.

  • Training – Implementing specialized tactics requires extensive training and expertise, often unavailable privately.

  • Resources – Complex operations demand significant personnel, equipment and logistical support, often exceeding private budgets.

  • Limited Resources – While some tactics can be adapted with creativity, effectiveness may be hampered by resource constraints. Collaboration with security professionals and information sharing can help bridge resource gaps.

CF: What do you hope attendees can learn and make use of from your session?

Dougherty: We want to provide an innovative and hopefully different lens or optic on how the private and public sector can selectively adopt and utilize cutting-edge philosophies, management practices, and tactics and techniques from the CIA and Special Operations world to effectively, securely and successfully run, manage and grow their companies, businesses and organizations in an increasingly challenging world filled with a myriad of threat vectors.

McDonald: Gain awareness of the evolving threat landscape and its diverse nature. Understand the importance of proactive security measures like vulnerability assessments and employee training. Recognize the limitations of adopting specialized tactics and seek expert guidance for complex threats. Appreciate the value of collaboration and information sharing within the private sector for collective defense. 

Read more about:

CP ExpoVARs/SIsMSPs

About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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