The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

The Center for Education and Research in
Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

Char Sample - Idaho National Lab

Students: Spring 2024, unless noted otherwise, sessions will be virtual on Zoom.

The Role of Culture in Cybersecurity

Feb 12, 2020

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Distinguished social psychologist Geert Hofstede observed the "dominance of technology over culture is an illusion. The software of the machines may be globalized, but the software of the minds that use them is not."  The role of culture in the thought process is so prevalent, yet unstated, that many cultural beliefs and biases are accepted as truths.  These cultural beliefs and biases are commonly infused into behavioral norms identifying behaviors that can be observed.  While historically,these observations have taken place in the physical realm, this talk discusses the findings of cultural markers in the cyber realm.

Dr. Sample presents and discusses recent interdisciplinary, evidence-based research using culture-based models of various cyber actors (attackers, defenders and victims)to explain observations in cybersecurity behaviors. These studies were performed over the past several years using public data found in the Zone-H archives. The mining of the Zone-H archives with over 10 million records of raw data allowed for research into behaviors, choices and reasons. By using Hofstede's cultural framework to define culture along with some basic inferential statistics, specific digital identifiers were associated with cultural dimensions, allowing for more accurate modeling of cyber actors based on cultural values.  The results supported Nisbett's observation that people "think the way they do because of the nature of the societies they live in".

The  discussion centers on the six dimensions of culture, the values associated with each dimension and examples of those values in cyber space. The six cultural dimensions measure views on values of self-determination, collectivism, aggression,nurturing, uncertain outcomes, holism, instant gratification, and levels of societal openness.  The behavioral traits that associate with the cultural values are behavioral traits that are consistent with cyber behaviors.

About the Speaker

Char Sample

Dr. Char Sample is the Chief Cybersecurity Research Scientist for the Cybercore division at Idaho National Laboratory. Dr. Sample is a visiting academic at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK and a guest lecturer at Bournemouth University, Rensselaer Polytechnic University and Royal Holloway University. Dr. Sample has over 20 years experience in the information security industry. Dr. Sample's research focuses on deception, and the role of cultural values in cybersecurity events. More recently she has begun researching the relationship between human cognition and machines. Presently Dr. Sample is continuing research on modeling cyber behaviors by culture, other areas of research are data resilience, cyber-physical systems and industrial control systems.

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