The Social, Political, Economic, and Cultural Dimensions of Cyber Attacks

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IEEE Technology and Society





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Essential systems providing water, electricity, healthcare, finance, food, and transportation are now increasingly software dependent, distributed, and interconnected. The detrimental consequences of this growing dependence become apparent during times of political conflict, social instability, and other traumatic events. The Internet has made information exchange easier and more efficient, but it has also created a new space in which criminals and terrorists can operate almost undetected. No longer is modern human conflict confined to the physical world; it has spread to cyberspace. Cyberspace is a massive socio technical system of systems, with a significant component being the humans involved. Current anomaly detection models focus primarily on analyzing network traffic to prevent malicious activities, but it has been shown that such approaches fail to account for human behaviors behind the anomalies. Evidence is growing that more cyber-attacks are associated with social, political, economic, and cultural (SPEC) conflicts. It is also now known that cyber-attackers' level of socio-technological sophistication, their backgrounds, and their motivations, are essential components to predicting, preventing, and tracing cyber-attacks. Thus, SPEC factors have the potential to be early predictors for outbreaks of anomalous activities, hostile attacks, and other security breaches in cyberspace.