Describe A Time When Student Behavior Was A Challenge.Question Answer Bruce Schneier and the Psychology of Security

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Bruce Schneier and the Psychology of Security

The acronym RSA is one of the most recognizable in the information security industry. This means Rivest, Shamir and Adleman, the partners who developed the public-key encryption and authentication algorithm and founded RSA Data Security, now known simply as RSA Security.

The annual RSA security summit is the most prestigious information security conference held each year. This is a “must attend event” for companies working in all the many fields under the “security” umbrella, from biometrics to cryptography. The RSA Conference is a high-powered assemblage of software developers, IT executives, policymakers, bureaucrats, researchers, academics and industry leaders, who gather to exchange information and share new ideas. Topics range widely from technology trends to best practices in biometrics, identity theft, secure web services, hacking and cyber-terrorism, network forensics, encryption and more.

At the 2007 gathering, Bruce Schneier, among the most inventive and outspoken experts in the security industry, spoke on a topic that so intrigued and excited the audience and the industry that it is still being discussed at the 2008 event. a whole year ago. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Counterpane, a company he founded that was later acquired by BT (formerly British Telecom), Schneier is known for his cryptographic genius as well as his criticisms of the use and abuse of technology.

In last year’s groundbreaking speech, Schneier talked about security decisions versus perceptions. He argues that, in general, both are driven by the same irrational, unpredictable, unimaginable motives that drive people in all their endeavors. He took on the great challenge of analyzing human behavior vis-à-vis risk management decisions, and reached out to the field of cognitive psychology and human perception to facilitate this understanding and develop practical security applications for airports, Internet, banking and more. industries.

Knowledge comes first

Schneier stated that security managers, their business partners and their respective corporate user communities are subject to the same motivations and passions as other people who do other things. That means they are as likely as anyone to make critical decisions based on unknown impressions, barely formed fears and faulty reasoning, rather than objective analysis.

“Security is a tradeoff,” Schneier told an overflow audience at his RSA 2007 session. “What do you get for what you give up? Whether you make that tradeoff consciously or not, there is one.”

He gives an example of such a trade-off by predicting that no one in the audience is wearing a bullet-proof vest. No hands were raised in this challenge, which Schneier attributed to the fact that the risk was not high enough to warrant wearing one. In addition to this rational thought process, he affirms that other, less rational factors undoubtedly influence many individual decisions not to wear a vest – such as the fact that they are large, not comfortable and not trendy.

“We make these exchanges every day,” Schneier said, going on to add that every other animal species does, too. In the business world, understanding how the human mind works has a powerful impact on the decision-making process. Human psychology plays a role in matters such as salary, vacation and benefits. There is no question, he added, that it plays an important role in decisions about security as well.

Decision making and “security theater”

Schneier put a lot of time into his studies of human (and animal) psychology and behavioral science. Everything he knows, he told the conference attendees, leads him to believe that the decisions made about security matters – whether in security companies or responsible departments in other types of companies – is often “less reasonable” than the decision makers think. .

The decision-making study led Schneier and others to take a new angle on the ongoing argument on the effectiveness of “security theater.” The term refers to steps — most airport steps, in fact, according to Schneier — that are designed to make people think they’re safer because they see something that “looks like security in action.” Even if that security doesn’t do anything to stop terrorists, the vision has become a reality for people who don’t want to look too deep into the issue. Unfortunately, Schneier said, there are many people who do not want to look deeper into anything, preferring the false security of ignorance.

There is a “feeling versus reality” disconnect, Schneier asserts. “You can feel safe but not safe. You can be safe but not feel safe.” As for airport security, it’s been proven time and time again that it’s not that difficult for terrorists (or your aunt, say) to bypass airport security systems. Therefore, the only thing the system can do is catch a dumb terrorist, or decoy – but above all, the “theatrical approach” makes the American air traveler think that the security regime has done more than true.

The TSA is not entirely without merit. It is doing something, doing at least some good work, like most any large organization. The issue is not the small benefit, but the large amount of hypocrisy, plus the final cost of two dollars and a devalued cultural currency. The TSA is three letters that is almost as mocked as the IRS, which is quite an achievement for a seven-year-old.

What we need to learn

Schneier is focusing his studies on the brain these days. Its more “primitive” part, known as the amygdala, is the part that simultaneously experiences fear and generates fear reactions. The first, primal reaction is called the “fight-or-flight” response, and Schneier points out that it works “very quickly, faster than consciousness. But it can be overridden by higher in the brain.”

Relatively slow, but “adaptive and flexible,” is the neocortex. In mammals, this part of the brain is associated with consciousness and evolves a set of responses to face fear and make decisions to promote personal and, later, group safety. The nexus, or overlapping area, between psychology and physiology is still being “mapped” and poorly understood, but it is the frontier of behavioral studies. And the emphasis on security is one of the most fundamental of the behaviors of higher life forms.

The decision-making process can be characterized as a “battle of the brain,” and the struggle between mammalian-brain reactivity and higher functions such as reason and logic leads to people exaggerating certain risks. Particularly powerful in terms of producing fear are dangers, real or perceived, that are “unusual, unusual, more. [one’s] controlled, discussed, international, man-made, immediate, directed against children or morally damaging,” said Schneier.

Of course, the same risk from a rational point of view are risks that are unnecessarily underestimated. These risks tend to be “pedestrian, common, lower [one’s] control, not discussed, natural, long-term, slowly developing or affecting others.

What we have to overcome

At the end of his phenomenally well-received RSA 2007 presentation, Schneier cited studies showing that people, in general, have an “optimism bias” that makes them think they are “luckier than others.” Recent experimental research on human memory of “dramatic events” suggests that “tranquility” – the quality that is “most vividly remembered” – often means that the “worst memory is the most usable.”

Other human psychological tendencies can cause completely irrational, as opposed to irrational, responses from decision makers. A primary factor is the term “anchor.” It describes a mental process in which the focus is shifted to other, secondary options in the way of creating and manipulating bias. With all the factors at play within this psychological framework, Schneier encourages security managers to understand that security risk responses – by management, their user communities and even themselves – can be unreasonable, sometimes unbelievable.

Schneier and other students of human behavior vis-à-vis safety and security know that we humans “make bad security tradeoffs when our sense of self and our reality are compromised. ” A quick look at the daily papers and a few minutes of listening to network news, he said, will provide ample evidence of “vendors and politicians manipulating these biases.”

Although we may not be able to overcome the seemingly innate human tendency to mix and confuse feelings and facts, continued attention to advances in the field of cognitive and experimental psychology will greatly benefit the perception and reality of personal and national security. . With threats abroad in today’s world, the sooner security professionals can bring more rationality to the decision-making processes of government and industry, the better.

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