Critical infrastructure and essential services in the United States—especially small or rural service providers—are highly vulnerable to disruptions from cyber attacks. Given the ever-growing need for cybersecurity services in all sectors and the inability of the marketplace to keep up with demand, a number of entities began organizing cyber volunteer efforts to provide assistance to resource-deprived recipients. State and local governments, federal emergency response organizations, for-profit companies, academic institutions and nonprofits have all built cyber volunteer programs that need skilled and experienced cybersecurity talent.
In this context, members of McDermott’s global privacy & cybersecurity team took on a pro bono project to provide a detailed examination of existing cyber volunteer programs, including cyber volunteering models, best practices and relevant legal issues. The report identifies the steps and recommendations that our team believes are essential to developing a much-needed cyber volunteer framework in the United States, including the following:
Creating a volunteer resource platform to coordinate the various cyber volunteer programs currently in existence
Establishing a self-assessment process whereby cyber volunteer organizations periodically analyze their distinct capabilities regarding proactive cyber assessments and reactive incident response
Developing model legal agreements among the volunteering parties that can be shared and periodically updated
Analyzing non-US organizations to better understand advances and other best practices that could be applied in the United States
Facilitating grassroots efforts that would allow individuals to connect with other volunteers in their communities and have a platform for exchanging knowledge and expertise
Creating a centralized nonprofit cyber entity that identifies donors, beneficiaries and individuals coupled with a matchmaking service
The authors are indebted to the government officials and numerous individuals at nonprofit entities and universities who provided invaluable insight for this project.