Humans are the Answer
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
We would like to end the year on a hopeful note. There is plenty of talk of data breaches, of security gaps, and of insider threats caused by people. Each day, news reporters provide evidence that security risks are growing, and cyber warfare is central to many global conflicts now. All of these sobering facts are true, and some could lead us to despair. But here is what we know to also be true: if people can innovate and create the technology and systems that have created these cyber challenges, people will also be the key to solving the same problems. Humans are the answer.
People are innovators.
People have found new ways to communicate and share information throughout history. We started with storytelling, moved on to newspapers, books, and magazines, and now we share our collective knowledge worldwide with the internet. Every technological innovation is a victory for humans. We have accomplished more than prior generations ever imagined to arrive at this moment, using the most advanced systems in history. People are also the source of cybercrime and malicious attacks on websites, databases, and personal information. We realize that innovation can be used for positive or negative causes. Since people have invented technologies that can be used for malicious purposes, we know that humans can also invent solutions to these problems. Humans are the answer to fixing cybersecurity problems.
People are problem solvers.
Since people are brilliant innovators, this means we can also solve the problems our technology has created. People can be seen as security risks, accidentally allowing data breaches or intentionally causing problems, but people also are the first line of defense. Humans use judgment and persistence to find the answers we need. Humans write the software and create the monitoring services to catch malicious actors in the act of an attack. Ethical hackers are focused specifically on problem solving and innovation – with permission, they simulate attacks on a company network in order to find the security gaps that need mitigation. Humans are the answer to solving our biggest cybersecurity challenges.
People act from intuition.
Contrary to programs and algorithms, humans leverage instinct in our choices and solutions. This doesn’t mean we can solve every problem, every time, but it does mean we operate at a different level of judgment and exercise more choices and more options than a machine. Intuition is gaining more credibility in the workplace as we learn more about it – here is one research piece with more details: “using your intuition” simply means being able to take in a lot of information and let our unconscious brain figure out what’s important.” Specifically in technology, “Technical intuition is a foundation for agency in and about the digital world and a missing cornerstone of the solution to many of our techno political challenges.”
People inspire others to act.
Finally, humans are the answer because people inspire others to act. The spread of information and education often passes through relationships. You attend a training, and you share the importance of MFA with a friend. You read an article about phone scams and caution your elderly grandmother to be vigilant about sharing her personal details. People inspire others to act for the sake of their personal cyber safety, in workplaces, and for our world as a whole. People work in cyber teams to accomplish mission objectives. Humans have a great capacity to bond and work together with others in order to solve a problem or create a better defense. People share stories of working in the cybersecurity field to inspire others to join us. The need is great. Humans have created some of the problems of today’s technology world, and humans are the answer to solving those problems. Our risk is people. And also, our hope is people.