(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 Center for Military Families for a panel on Politics in the Service of Military Families, featuring Cedric Leighton, David Splitter, Steve Huerta, and the Office of Congressman Henry Cuellar. The event is free and open to the public.
Buena Vista Street Building, Aula Canaria Lecture Hall (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
UTSA Dance classes will take the stage and share their talents and passion for dance! Come support our growing dance program! $10 admission
Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
This panel presentation will look at the history of the YWCA and the impact the organization has had on women in the San Antonio community.
McKinney Humanities Building (MH 2.02.10), Main Campus
The Demography Lecture Series continues with Dr. Barbara Bird of American University. Her topic focuses on Insights Into a Hard to Find Population: Latino Entrepreneurs in Metro Washington, D.C. Event is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the pay stall spaces of the Monterrey surface lot.
Monterrey Building (MNT 3.240), Downtown Campus
This video tells the story of four Latina lesbians who fought for exoneration after being wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting two girls during the Satanic Panic witch-hunt era of the 1980s and 1990s.
H-E-B University Center, Bexar Room (HUC 1.102), Main Campus
Tejana/Indígena author Ire'ne Lara Ailva will read from her latest work and discuss her approach to reimagining Tejan@ myths.
Main Building (MB 2.404), Main Campus
Muralist Crystal Arias will discuss her current mural "Cultivate the Past to Prestige" at La India Herbs and themes she utilizes in her other works.
McKinney Humanities Building (MH 3.02.26), Main Campus
The UTSA Department of Modern Languages and Literatures is a co-sponsor of the CARTA 19th Annual Conference. The group meets annually to exchange educational programs, ideas, and techniques and to network with other teachers of Russian. Registration required.
DoubleTree by Hilton, Downtown San Antonio
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