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  • Writer's pictureThe Aspen Strategy Group

Guest Post: Protecting Against All Possibilities

Protecting Against All Possibilities

Ron Green, Chief Security Officer, Mastercard

We’re rapidly and irreversibly moving towards a digital-first world. As this happens, our approach to security must evolve with it.

But how do we prepare to secure ourselves in the world we’re working to build? How do we stay ahead of the threats that we’ll see in the next decade and beyond?

For Mastercard and our partners, a foundational element of this preparation is something called Threatcasting. This is exactly what it sounds like: threat forecasting.

To bring this concept to life, we partner annually with futurist Brian David Johnson to bring together a group of global subject matter experts, representing a wide variety of cultural, sociological, economic, and scientific fields, from across the public and private sector. The group is challenged to look beyond the 1, 3, and 5-year horizons and instead think 10 years into the future.

We’ve used Threatcasting to think about topics like Quantum, Supply Chain and communication between ground and Space-based assets – and when COVID-19 took hold of the globe last year, we hosted a special session to Threatcast from a pandemic perspective.

We convened this COVID-specific Threatcasting session in March 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning to take hold in the United States. It was clear that there would be a disruption to our workforce, but eventually we’d return to our offices. The session helped us understand where to focus our efforts and let us stand up Tiger Teams to support the organization where we knew additional help was needed.

The Threatcasting framework helps us combine the wide range of inputs we collect through a series of information sharing exercises so we can imagine a broad range of future threats. It also provides a systematic way to look backwards from these imagined futures to understand the steps needed to disrupt, mitigate and recover from them as well.

It’s important to note that we’re not just thinking about one, singular, future – particularly as we consider a topic as complex as security. We’re thinking multiple times about multiple futures involving different types of people around the world. From there, we’re able to step back and ask, “what do we need to do as an organization, as a nation, or as an industry to prepare ourselves for those futures?”

Ultimately, we’re building a roadmap for many potential futures. It shows us what might be coming and how we need to respond. It gives us the ability to stay nimble as we combat oncoming threats and be deliberate in how we prepare for what’s next.

Blending collaboration and innovation in this way are essential elements of how we secure ourselves today and help us build a sustainable, resilient security posture for the future.

For a deeper discussion on Threatcasting, some of the future threats we’ve identified and how we can work together today to defend against tomorrow’s attacks, tune in to tomorrow's session at Aspen Security Forum, Standing Together: Protecting Global Cyber Networks through Public - Private Partnerships.


As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Aspen Institute is nonpartisan and does not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or parties. Further, the views and opinions of our guests and speakers do not necessarily reflect those of the Aspen Institute.

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