Human Factor Missing in Cybersecurity?

Photo: Peter Baxter

There is too much of an emphasis in cybersecurity on “technical solutions,” and not enough focus on the nitty-gritty unknowns of human behavor in cyberspace, says Eric Bonabeau, the founder and chairman of cutting-edge “idea-incubator” Icosystem Corporation.

“The extent to which research and development in cybersecurity has been skewed toward ‘technical solutions’ is mind-boggling,” Bonabeau, who is also a founding member of a Defense Department-funded cybersecurity science initiative, writes in a guest blog post for The Atlantic.

“But cyberspace, although it is the result of tremendous technological progress, is not just a piece of technology: It is both an enabler and an amplifier of human nature, eliciting new manifestations of human nature,” he adds.

While cyberspace has “unprecedented reach” into our lives (and allows us the same scope of reach into others’ lives), there remains a fundamental lack of understanding of our place in cyberspace, he posits.

“The intuition we have gained from the physical world over thousands of years of evolution leaves us ill prepared to deal with the new geography of cyberspace,” Bonabeau writes.

But in the wake of cyber incidents — such as the hacking of Google (ostensibly by China), known as Operation Aurora and the WikiLeaks disclosures — it’s time for a reevaluation of the human factor in securing cyberspace, Bonabeau writes.

“Obviously, it is essential to continue to improve the technical aspects of cybersecurity and significant investments need to be made to ensure continuous progress — and to keep up with increasingly sophisticated enemies,” he writes. “But at the same time, human behavior is almost always the weakest link in security.”

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