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Empathy: The Next Killer App for Cybersecurity?
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User Rank: Author
2/7/2019 | 8:58:37 AM
Empathy is important, but...
Interesting read Shay, but I'd like to offer a bit of a contrarian point of view - you summarized by writing "Ultimately, the next "killer app" for cybersecurity won't be a matter of doing more, faster. Instead, we must empower humans to make better decisions — including those at the front desk all the way up to those in the corner office."
I submit to you that training and educating users so that they always make the right decision borders on utopia. It's sounds like a "checklist security strategy" and we all know how well that works.  It's enough for example that one URL slips through the mental process, and WHAM...

I would offer that the concept should be not empowering humans here, but rather eliminating them from the equation.  In other words isolating  users from the risk vectors entirely if possible, rather than warning them abut them. 

An example - complete Remote Browser isolation, rather than training users on how to identify malicious site/links/phishing attempts etc.

Makes sense?
User Rank: Apprentice
11/21/2018 | 4:35:42 AM
Re: Interesting article on Emphathy
User Rank: Author
11/16/2018 | 4:04:52 PM
Re: Interesting article on Emphathy
Todd - 

Great questions and discussion here. Thanks for reading and for continuing to engage.

I think you setup some potential answers in your own response here - it comes back to a human to human engagement. To your point on why insider threats manifest, those are all things that can be overcome by businesses through human connection. If people need validation, recognition, or respect, that's something that leadership can either actively provide or decide that the employee doesn't fit and take a different direction.

If the needs are external (financial, family issues, etc.) - employers can go a long way towards making meaningful accommodations in that space, as well. Unlikely that they can resolve them entirely, but a little empathy here goes a long way.

Finally, to your first point about the front-line, heads-down workers who either don't see security as their responsibility or who don't feel empowered to act, that's exactly the point of the article. Companies who encourage a culture of risk ownership, high engagement, low levels of fear about making a mistake or speaking up will be able to scale the value of their human resources much more than those who can't. I would offer that in an organization where a junior accounting person feels they can't raise an issue when something doesn't look right (or after they've clicked and realized it wasn't right), the fault rests on the leadership and their culture rather than the employee or their cybersecurity training.

Business is a team sport, and if we can't get everyone on the team to play together, there's no way that we're going to make any progress.


User Rank: Ninja
11/15/2018 | 12:45:50 PM
Interesting article on Emphathy
→  it is the human element that creates effective penetration testing practices at scale.

I am just curious, how do you go about improving the human element when employees don't really seem to get or understand cybersecurity. They think if they keep their head down and remain quiet, then they won't draw any attention to themselves.

I will give you an example, if someone is working with their head down and they are in accounting. They click on a link and the link says that they owe money to a vendor. The email came from the vendor but it was a phishing attack (the person's email account list was exposed to the hacker) where the pdf and link to update the banking information caused the person from accouting to act. Now this person has been trained for over 20 yrs in the area of security from this organization but thought this was a valid transaction. The amount of money from a realistic perspective may not have been alot, but this still happened.

To a trained engineer, they would have caught the mispelling of the name, the dns name not being corect or the address and pdf information being somewhat off.

But to the regular joe, this seemed reasonable. I am not sure if we can totally protect against this type of attack. I do agree there are certain things we need to do in order to mitigate the attacks but within a group of people that could range from 1K - 1M in number, with different skill sets, then I am not sure how you can defend against this type of attack. Threre needs to be some sort of AI/ML (Machine Learning) integration that assists the user in making the right decision because hacks continue to take place everyday even with controls and policies in place.

There is another discussion that could piggy back off of this discussion, the gap b/t the "haves" and "have nots". At the end of the day, people steal for three reasons, for political, economic and/or respect (just to show that they could do it). What we need to focus on is the psychological aspects of our society, there is an intrinsic problem with the way we think, because everyone has a breaking point and if pushed hard enough, every person will go down that path. Remember, for some people, it may not be about money, it could be that they need a specific drug for a parent or loved one, a child is suffereing or does not get into the school of choice.

Just remember, our society is delicate and if it is swayed one way or the other could cause catastrophic wave that effects everyone, the deep problem is not the hack, it is the way the way we think and how we think that needs to change.



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