(Dec. 14, 2015) -- A new study by Max Kilger, director of Data Analytics Programs at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) College of Business, is delving into an aspect of cybersecurity rarely explored before now: the human component. Kilger’s research utilizes his talents as a social psychologist to show that at the beginning of any digital threat is a real person with unique motivations.
“I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to get people to understand that the human component of cybersecurity is very important,” Kilger said. “Understanding the motivations of cyberterrorists was a foreign concept until very recently and still is to many information security professionals.”
Kilger recently represented UTSA, which is home to the nation’s top cybersecurity program, at a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) training facility in Ankara, Turkey. There, he stressed the importance of understanding that cyberterrorists are different from traditional terrorists. There are several motivations for the attacks they carry out. Kilger said that while some are driven by ego, politics or entertainment, the most common reason is money.
“You can basically rob a bank without actually robbing a bank,” he said. “The risk of getting caught is fairly low and the chance of success is pretty high.”
Kilger is among the UTSA faculty leading the charge in studying the human component of cyberterrorism. He has unique expertise in cybersecurity and social psychology.
The reason why this topic is lesser known, he said, is that security professionals become very focused on the technological side of responding to attacks and lack the social psychology background to analyze and understand the human being on the other side of that attack.
“Being able to project future scenarios is one of the most important aspects of cybersecurity,” he said. “A lot of information security efforts are defense-based and reactive. We need a more proactive approach.”
According to Kilger, a new approach is needed because now a single person can effectively attack a nation-state. In his study, published in Availability, Reliability and Security, he explains that the dramatic shift in power between a country and an individual is very enticing and it’s one sign that a cyber terrorism community could be on the rise.
“As a social psychologist, you look at markers and clues. You analyze what’s happened before and how that informs what’s going on now,” he said. “Losses are adding up significantly. They’re recruiting all the time and they’re very organized.”
As societies become more reliant on the Internet the threat of cyber terrorism looms larger. It’s something Kilger said needs to be kept in mind moving forward in a world where cars and airplanes are connected to the Internet.
“There’s no easy solution,” he said. “We need more understanding of why these attacks occur and why people do them. Then we can start figuring out what their targets will be and what they’re likely to do. With that, we can stop them from happening.”
Learn more about data analytics at UTSA.
Read Max Kilger’s study, “Integrating Human Behavior into the Development of Future Cyberterrorism Scenarios.”
Join the combined UTSA Bands as they perform a program of holiday and seasonal-themed music! This program is appropriate for all ages and includes medleys and arrangements of well-known favorites. Tickets are $10; no free admission.
Arts Building, Recital Hall (ARTS 2.03.02), Main Campus
State Rep. Diego Bernal presents a Q&A panel discussion with MALDEF, RAICES and DMCA Immigration Law Firm about DACA and the current state of affairs for Dreamers. Opening remarks by Congressman Joaquin Castro and Congressman Lloyd Doggett.
Buena Vista Building, Aula Canaria Auditorium (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
Graduates from the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, College of Business, College of Education and Human Development and the College of Public Policy will participate in the first commencement ceremony. President Romo will deliver the keynote address.
Graduates from the College of Engineering, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, College of Sciences and University College will participate in the second commencement ceremony. President Romo will deliver the keynote address.
UTSA's Department of Music hosts Dr. David Huron from Ohio State University as part of the Donald Hodges lecture series. Huron is a Canadian arts and humanities distinguished professor at Ohio State University.
UTSA Faculty Center, John Peace Library (JPL 4.04.22), Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.