A Socio-Technical Approach to Internet Security
Interesting research grant from the NSF:
Technical security measures are often breached through social means, but little research has tackled the problem of system security in the context of the entire socio-technical system, with the interactions between the social and technical parts integrated into one model. Similar problems exist in the field of system safety, but recently a new accident model has been devised that uses a systems-theoretic approach to understand accident causation. Systems theory allows complex relationships between events and the system as a whole to be taken into account, so this new model permits an accident to be considered not simply as arising from a chain of individual component failures, but from the interactions among system components, including those that have not failed.
This exploratory research will examine how this new approach to safety can be applied to Internet security, using worms as a first example. The long-term goal is to create a general model of trustworthiness that can incorporate both safety and security, along with system modeling tools and analysis methods that can be used to create more trustworthy socio-technical systems. This research provides a unique opportunity to link two research disciplines, safety and security, that have many commonalities but, up to now, relatively little communication or interaction.