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Towards a method for examining the effects of cognitive load on the performance of cyber first responders

In this study we investigated the behaviour and physiological responding of trainee cyber security workers while undertaking a Capture-the-Flag (CTF) task. Participants were equipped with armbands that recorded two measures of cognitive load, including; heat flux and galvanic skin response (GSR). Several conclusions were drawn from this exploratory project: 1. Participants’ physiological measurements exhibited idiosyncratic profiles, even when participants performed the same task; 2. Raw physiological measures failed to indicate anything clear about how participants reacted to specific events within the studies; 3. Utilising a Red-vs-Blue CTF competition enabled the development of a new way of examining the physiological data, which indicated a consistent trend amongst all participants across all physiological measures; and, 4. In the CTF competition, winning and losing participants became highly reactive to positive and negative events, respectively.

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