(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.”
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Come out and meet Dr. Ray Bateman, ARL South Cyber on-site Lead, and Kristin Schweitzer who form the nucleus of ARL South Cyber on our campus. They will give a brief overview of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and how it fits within the Army’s hierarchy. Morning session is 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Afternoon session is 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
John Peace Library (JPL 4.04.12C), Main Campus
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics is offering four special panels open and free to the San Antonio public July 31-Aug. 3 to mark the tricentennial next year. The event is co-sponsored by UTSA Research.
Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., San Antonio
Get ready for the fall 2017 semester at UTSA with a variety of fun and informational events.
Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
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