Moving from a ‘human-as-problem” to a ‘human-as-solution” cyber security mindset

The escalation in the numbers of cyber incidents shows no sign of abating, and it seems appropriate to take a look at the way cybersecurity is conceptualised and to consider whether there is a need for a mindset change. Benefiting from research in other fields, we propose a new mindset i.e. “Cybersecurity, Differently”. This approach rests on recognition of the fact that the problem is actually the high complexity, interconnectedness and emergent qualities of socio-technical systems. The “differently” mindset acknowledges the well-intentioned human’s ability to be an important contributor to organisational cybersecurity, as well as their potential to be “part of the solution” rather than “the problem”. In essence, this new approach initially treats all humans in the system as if they are well-intentioned. The focus is on enhancing factors that contribute to positive outcomes and resilience. We conclude by proposing a set of key principles and, with the help of a prototypical fictional organisation, consider how this mindset could enhance and improve cybersecurity across the socio-technical system.