Written by Kathi Whitbey, Principal Business Operations Manager, Unit 42

As I reflect on the last five years following the creation of the CTA, I am humbled by the growth, cooperation, and respect that our organization has developed from the simple idea that the only way to beat our adversaries was to find a way to work together. I can still remember the first day I walked into Palo Alto Network’s Unit 42 six years ago. Coming into cybersecurity after a long career in US government contracting and building large custom software programs, I was nervous, to say the least. What did I know about cybersecurity?

Then the whirlwind began! My cubicle sat outside the office of Palo Alto Network’s former Chief Security Officer, Rick Howard’s office in Reston, VA. A few weeks after being hired, Rick called me into his office and declared, “We have this project we’re working on and we need your help.” Off to California we went and next thing I knew I was sitting in a conference room with CEOs and CSOs from the best cybersecurity companies in the world talking about how to build an organization where threat intelligence would be openly shared for the good of everyone. They knew then, as we’ve proven all along, we don’t compete on our threat intelligence, we compete on what we do with it once we have it! 

I count myself very lucky to have been involved in the development phase of the CTA in those early months. I work for a company that really walked the walk, from our CEO on down; a company that believes completely in the mission. I drank the proverbial Kool-aid, so to speak, and began my crash course in all things cybersecurity. We brought in a consulting firm to help us form the legal entity that is now the CTA, a non-profit organization with a strong, representative membership. After a whirlwind year filled with meetings, conference calls, and more flights to California than I can remember, we were able to celebrate the legal beginnings of what the CTA was and still is today.

Since its founding, the CTA has continued to grow both its membership and capabilities. The information sharing platform we use is now in its 3rd iteration. We’ve grown from eight members to the current 34. Bringing Michael Daniel in to run this organization has proven to be a smart move. The staff and other incredible minds he surrounds himself with daily only boosts the mission. Our growth and resources are something a conference room full of CEOs six years ago could have only dreamt of. We made their vision come true.

The CTA has shown that together we can do more. We have proven that collaboration can – and does – make us all better equipped to provide protections for all our customers, while still remaining fierce competitors. We have accomplished this by sticking to the original guidelines set forth by our founding members, which are:

  1. Everyone must share. No free-riders. One must give in order to receive.
  2. What we do share has to be usable information. Not one of us has all of the information, but together we can build a pretty complete picture of what our adversaries are up to.
  3. Sharing is done in a structured format that includes contextual information around the indicators that helps to tell the complete story.

All member companies have the ability to help shape where the CTA goes from here. Through committee work and special projects, member companies can stay active in the progress and direction of the organization, and work to help shape the future of cybersecurity success across the globe. We all benefit from the insights brought to the table from such a diverse group of cybersecurity professionals. Our adversaries are constantly adapting; with the input of the member companies, the CTA remains well positioned to keep up with the changing threat landscape. As I reflect upon my career, there is nothing I am prouder of than my participation in the CTA. It’s a rare thing for most people to see an idea grow into a successful organization like this, and to know there is so much more to be done. We’ve only just started. Congratulations on this milestone birthday, CTA. I am looking forward to what the next five years has in store for us all.

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