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A New Model: Advancing Organizational Security Through Peacebuilding


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Why is the security industry so full of fail? We spend millions of dollars on firewalls, IPS, IDS, DLP, professional penetration tests and assessments, vulnerability and compliance tools, but at the end of the day, the weakest link is the user and his or her inability to make the right choices. It's enough to make a security professional cry.

The one thing you can depend upon in an enterprise is that many of your users, even with training, will still make the wrong choices. They will violate BYOD restrictions, click on links they shouldn't, respond to phishing scams, open documents without thinking, post too much information on Twitter and Facebook, use their pet's name as passwords, etc. But what if this isn't because users hate us or are too stupid?

What if all our ignored policies and procedures regarding the best security practices have more to do with our failure to understand modern neuroscience and the human mind's resistance to change?

Humans are wired to be emotional beings. These emotions influence most of our decisions, both good and bad. In failing to understand how this is at the root of user non-compliance, no matter how much money we spend on expensive hardware and software, we will fail to achieve the goal of good organizational security. With a goal of understanding human behavior, the session will combine concepts from applied neuroscience with physical and interactive exercises based upon the principles of mindfulness and martial arts.

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A New Model: Advancing Organizational Security Through Peacebuilding

  1. 1. A New Model: Advancing Organizational Security Through Peacebuilding
  2. 2. Who Are We? Michele Chubirka, aka "Mrs. Y.,” host and official nerd stalker of the information security podcast, Healthy Paranoia. @MrsYisWhy Joe Weston, workshop facilitator, consultant, and author of the book Mastering Respectful Confrontation. Also founder of the Heartwalker Peace Project.
  3. 3. Who We Aren’t
  4. 4. How engaged can you be today?
  5. 5. Introductions and Background
  6. 6. Language of Violence and Fear  Taxonomy of information security is borrowed from the language of war.  How does this impact the user community?  How does this affect our lives? Does it make us better at security?
  7. 7.  18% of users will visit a link in a phishing email (Verizon 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report).  86% of organizations have at least one high-risk application (Check Point Security Report 2014).  37% of Americans are not concerned about computer viruses and spam. 27 % were “somewhat concerned.” The numbers are similar for online banking and shopping. (Unisys Security Index)  2013 was the “Year of the Breach” with compromises at Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, New York Times, and the Washington Post. The human was the attack vector.
  8. 8. According to Sophos study, only 4% of IT staff trust their users
  9. 9. Maybe Users Aren’t Stupid  We spend millions of dollars on security products.  The weakest link is the user.  Even with training, users make the wrong choices.  What if the problem isn’t about the user, but us?
  10. 10. FUD Doesn’t Work What does?  Leadership  Engagement  A “why” message.  Build and develop relationship for user buy-in.
  11. 11. Demo: How Users See Us
  12. 12. "If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business….” -Simon Sinek
  13. 13. Or security
  14. 14. State of the Workplace
  15. 15. An "engaged employee”  Is enthusiastic about work.  Furthers the organization's reputation and interests.
  16. 16. 70% of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” - Gallup’s 2013 State of the American Workplace
  17. 17. Stress 79 % of IT staff consider quitting due to job-related stress. -From GFI Software’s 3rd Annual IT Admin Stress Survey
  18. 18. Employee Engagement Matters
  19. 19. “Leadership is not a rank, it’s a decision.” -Simon Sinek
  20. 20. Group Exercise
  21. 21. Power and Leadership in the 21st century
  22. 22. Key Areas to Balance for Successful Leadership  Productivity  Relationship  Self Care
  23. 23. “Human beings have discretionary energy, and they would give it to you if you treat them with dignity and respect.” -Paul O’Neill, former Treasury Secretary of US under George W. Bush
  24. 24. When one moves into their vulnerability, their true power is revealed.
  25. 25. Brain RTFM
  26. 26. "The human brain hasn't had a hardware upgrade in about 100,000 years." Daniel Goleman, Author of Emotional Intelligence
  27. 27. Neuroscience 101 Limbic System: The interior of the cortex, includes the hippocampus and amygdala. Supports emotion and long-term memory. Prefrontal Cortex: Region responsible for planning, decision making and moderating behavior. Think of the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex as a horse is to a rider.
  28. 28. Demonstration: A Brain In the Palm of Your Hand  Hold up your hand and make a fist.  This is a good representation of the brain and spinal column.  The brain stem, limbic system and neocortex. * These two slides are oversimplifications of a very complex system.
  29. 29. The Threat Response: Step 1 Cortex receives input from the thalamus, a component of the limbic system responsible for sensory information and pain perception.
  30. 30. The Threat Response: Step 2 Limbic system and prefrontal cortex (the executive or evaluator of the brain) take in data simultaneously.
  31. 31. The Threat Response: Step 3 Amygdala, responsible for emotional response and memory, acts as an alarm activating the fight/flight hormonal response if threat is perceived.
  32. 32. The Threat Response: 4 Sympathetic nervous system sets up organs and muscles for fight/flight response, inhibiting digestion and the hypothalamus prompts the release of stress hormones.
  33. 33. Emotional Contagion  Limbic system is an “open loop,” influenced by other people’s emotions, aka mirror neurons.  Mirror neurons activate when an animal performs an action or when an animal observes the same action of another animal.  Basis of empathy.  Also called emotional contagion.
  34. 34. The Power of Mirror Neurons Researcher Marie Dasborough observed two groups:  One group was given negative feedback accompanied by positive emotional signs, nods and smiles.  Another was provided positive feedback that was delivered using negative emotional cues, frowns and narrowed eyes.
  35. 35. Entrainment  Those receiving positive feedback with negative emotional signs felt worse than those receiving negative feedback given with positive emotional cues. Your emotions and actions are mirrored by those around you.
  36. 36. Negativity  The brain has a negativity bias because the limbic system is quicker than the prefrontal cortex when evaluating threat.  Traumatic experiences are “stickier” than positive, happy experiences, i.e. harder to un-map.  It takes five to twenty seconds for positive experiences to register in the brain.
  37. 37. No Escape From Threat  Negativity is useful for a species to evolve.  Most are in a permanent state of cortisol overload due to the constant stressors of modern life.  Stress hormones stay in the body for hours.  Decreases intellectual capacity, memory and lowers impulse control. Stress makes you stupid.
  38. 38. Amygdala Hijack Intense and immediate emotional reaction, followed by the understanding that it was inappropriate.  I thought that stick on the ground was a snake!  I don’t like you or I’m bored, so I won’t cooperate or listen to what you have to say.  That guy who cut me off in traffic was trying to kill me!  Why were you so insulting to me in that email yesterday? (studies show there’s a negativity bias in email.)  Other examples?
  39. 39. Thin Slicing: Warren Harding Syndrome  Human beings make quick decisions based on intuition.  “Love at first sight” or a “gut reaction.”  Called “Thin Slicing” or “Fast Thinking.”  Example is “Warren Harding Syndrome.”  A mediocre presidential candidate, Americans voted for him , because he was tall, good looking and charming.
  40. 40. Harding has been called one of the worst presidents in history.
  41. 41. Thin Slicing: Bedside Manner  The likelihood of a doctor being sued doesn’t correlate with the number of errors made.  Psychologists can predict which doctors will be sued.  They analyze the amount of time spent with patients and if the tone of their voices sounded “concerned.”
  42. 42. There’s No Mr. Spock  Neurologist, Dr. Antonio Damasio, had a patient who had been a successful corporate lawyer.  A tumor was discovered in his prefrontal lobes.  When removed, the circuit between this area and amygdala was severed.
  43. 43. Somatic Marker  No damage to his cognitive abilities, but his life fell apart.  He couldn’t make decisions when presented with simple choices.  He no longer had any feelings regarding options, no preferences.  Basis for the Somatic Marker Hypothesis, a theory that emotions assist with decision-making.
  44. 44. It is a gross misconception that reason can be completely separated from emotion. Bounded Emotionality
  45. 45. Connections Matter
  46. 46. Big Brains Are Social  Anthropologist Robin Dunbar found that a species’ brain size is linked to the size of its social group.  We have big brains in order to socialize.
  47. 47. We’re Wired for Empathy  In brain’s non-active moments, it reverts to a configuration called the “default network.”  According to researcher, Matthew Lieberman, this resembles the social thinking brain, which is empathetic.
  48. 48. Is Efficiency Overrated?  Study conducted by Gillian M. Sandstrom and Elizabeth W. Dunn of the University of British Columbia.  People who “smiled, made eye contact, and talked with the cashier” at a coffee shop reported better moods than those who avoided interaction.  Small interactions with others can create a feeling of connection according to researchers.
  49. 49. The Message Matters
  50. 50. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it." - Simon Sinek
  51. 51. Golden Circle
  52. 52. The Golden Circle + Human Brain
  53. 53. Security’s Golden Why Security as stewards of an organization’s reputation and customer trust.
  54. 54. Delivering the Message
  55. 55. You’re the Threat  The WAY we present information is just as important as the WHAT.  In the first few minutes we interact with someone, we’re being assessed for threat.
  56. 56. “How To Break a Terrorist” Interrogator, Matthew Alexander discovered that building rapport with prisoners in Iraq was the most effective interrogation method, not torture.
  57. 57. “The quickest way to get most (but not all) captives talking is to be nice to them.” Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down
  58. 58. Effective Social Heuristics Rule of thumb, experience-based problem solving  Tit for Tat: 1. Be kind first, keep a memory of size one, and imitate your partner’s last behavior. 2. Only the last behavior is remembered and imitated. 3. Political scientist Robert Axelrod found this to be the most frequently winning strategy.  Don’t Break Ranks
  59. 59. FBI’s Tips for Building Relationship 1. Understand the other’s priorities and goals. 2. Place their needs ahead of yours. 3. Listen without formulating your reply. Let the other person talk. 4. Ask for thoughts and opinions. 5. Suspend your ego, avoiding judgment and criticism. Robin Dreeke oversees the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program and author of "It’s Not All About Me."
  60. 60. Experiment Draw the letter “e” in the air in front of you.
  61. 61. Methods of Engagement • Interaction based on Emotional Intelligence: self- awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and motivation. • Social engineers and con artists use the same skills to create emotional and social affinity with a target. • Conflict resolution methods.
  62. 62. “We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together we have to talk.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
  63. 63. Communication Models Based On Empathy  XYZ model  NVC  Respectful Confrontation
  64. 64. Marshall Rosenberg’s Non- Violent Communication  Facts or observations  Feelings  Needs or what’s “alive”  Request
  65. 65. Joe Weston’s Respectful Confrontation  Behavior  Impact  Need  Make a request
  66. 66. "Niceness can be a dodge to avoid engaging in unpleasant interactions." -Bill Kahn, Ph.D.
  67. 67. What’s Really Going On?
  68. 68. Goals  Learn about empowered, collaborative engagement.  Reframe views on confrontation, assertiveness, and true power.  Achieve greater self-confidence, personal freedom, fulfillment, and peaceful interactions with others.
  69. 69. My truth ≠ The truth
  70. 70. Respectful Confrontation  The practice of developing the respectful self  The practice of respectful engagement  The practice of respectful offense  The practice of respectful defense
  71. 71. 3 F’s Fight Flight Freeze
  72. 72. “Hmm, I’d like a cup of tea…”
  73. 73. 5 Steps of Clear Communication 1. Contact with yourself 2. Contact with other 3. Desire/Impulse 4. Act of communication 5. Received message
  74. 74. True power = Brute force Confrontation = Conflict Assertiveness = Aggression
  75. 75. Brute force ≠ true power
  76. 76. Four Pillars of True Power Grounding Focus Strength Flexibility
  77. 77. Conflict ≠ confrontation
  78. 78. “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.” - Winston Churchill
  79. 79. 1 : FIGHT, BATTLE, WAR
2 a : competitive or opposing action of incompatibles : antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons) b : mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands; see DISCORD Conflict
  80. 80. Confront con·front 
1 : to face especially in challenge : OPPOSE
2 a : to cause to meet : bring face-to-face <confront a reader with statistics> b : to meet face-to-face : ENCOUNTER
  81. 81. Respectful Confrontation Definition CONFLICT: an encounter that leads to the further separation of individuals, the breakdown of relationship, and the disempowerment of the other.
  82. 82. Respectful Confrontation Definition CONFRONTATION: an encounter that leads to individuals coming closer together, deepening of relationship, and the empowerment of all involved.
  83. 83. “If you fear making anyone mad, then you ultimately probe for the lowest common denominator of human achievement.” - Former President, Jimmy Carter
  84. 84. Aggression ≠ Assertiveness
  85. 85. Aggressive 1 a: tending toward or exhibiting aggression <aggressive behavior> b: marked by combative readiness <an aggressive fighter> 2 a: marked by obtrusive energy b: marked by driving forceful energy or initiative : enterprising <an aggressive salesman> 3: strong or emphatic in effect or intent <aggressive colors> <aggressive flavors> 4: growing, developing, or spreading rapidly <aggressive bone tumors>
  86. 86. Assertive 1 : disposed to or characterized by bold or confident assertion <an assertive leader> 2 : having a strong or distinctive flavor or aroma <assertive wines>
  87. 87. Respectful Confrontation Definition AGGRESSION: any behavior, action, remark, gesture, or facial expression that impacts another with the goal to disempower and/or is received by the other in a harmful, threatening way.
  88. 88. Respectful Confrontation Definition ASSERTIVENESS: any behavior, action, remark, gesture, or facial expression that impacts another with the goal to empower and/or is received by the other in a positive way.
  89. 89. Respectful Offense: Giving Feedback 1. Prepare (come with facts, times, dates). 2. Make contact. Be sure it is a good time and place. 3. Introduce the topic. Let the other know why you are having this conversation 4. Share what you have NOTICED about the behavior in question. Give examples. 5. Express how it affects you (feelings, state of being, unmet needs) 6. Identify desired need. Be open to listen to the need of the other. 7. Mention the desired behavior and collaborate on solutions. 8. Sum up. Make clear goals, agreements for the future, and how to follow up. 9. End the confrontation.
  90. 90. Important Feedback Points  You are addressing someone’s BEHAVIOR, not them as a person.  You MUST share how their behavior affects you, otherwise you are not giving feedback, you are criticizing. Name, behavior, effect, need, desired behavior, followup
  91. 91. “With realization of one’s potential, and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” - His Holiness the Dalai Lama
  92. 92. “Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield.... what is soft is strong.” - Lao Tzu
  93. 93.
  94. 94. Key Takeaways  Bad trumps good in the human brain.  You can’t turn your emotions off, they’re critical for decisions.  We’re all responsible for the quality of the emotional landscape.  Stress makes you stupid, by shutting down blood flow to the pre-frontal lobes.  If you set off a stress response in someone, you minimize the chance of having a rational dialogue.  Confrontation isn’t always negative. Resistance to change can be valuable feedback.
  95. 95. Cyber Peace  Peaceful doesn’t mean passive.  Peace isn’t the absence of war or conflict.  Violence isn’t always physical. There are subtle ways to commit harm. Stop blaming the victims and work in partnership with our users to empower each other in our mutual goal of security.
  96. 96. Where Can You Find Us? Michele Chubirka, spending quality time in kernel mode. Twitter @MrsYisWhy Google+ MrsYisWhy Joe Weston, writing and teaching workshops.
  97. 97. References Chubirka, Michele. "Is Cyber Security a Form of Violence." Web log post. Packetpushers. Packetpushers, 31 Jan. 2012. Web. Esfahani Smith, Emily. "Social Connection Makes a Better Brain." The Atlantic 29 Oct. 2013: n. pag. Print. Goleman, Daniel, and Richard Boyatzis. "Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership." Harvard Business Review Sept. 2008: 74-81. Print. Goleman, Daniel. Working with Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam, 1998. Print. Hanson, Rick, and Richard Mendius. Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2009. Print. Kryder, Suzanne. The Mind to Lead. N.p.: NeuroLeap, 2011. Print. Luders, Eileen, Florian Kurth, Emeran A. Mayer, Arthur W. Toga, Katherine L. Narr, and Christian Gaser. "The Unique Brain Anatomy of Meditation Practitioners: Alterations in Cortical Gyrification." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6.34 (2012): 1-9. Print. O'Connell, Andrew. "HBR Blog Network / The Daily Stat." Harvard Business Review. Harvard Business Review, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 02 Nov. 2013. Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead, 2009. Print. Pink, Daniel. "Why Bosses Need to Show Their Soft Side." The Telegraph 17 July 2011: n. pag. Print. Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer, 2003. Print. Siegel, Daniel J. The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-being. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print. Weston, Joe. Mastering Respectful Confrontation: A Guide to Personal Freedom and Empowered, Collaborative Engagement. Emeryville, CA: Heartwalker, 2011. Print. Zehr, Howard. The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Intercourse, PA: Good, 2002. Print.