With almost daily news reports of attacks on digital networks and data infrastructures, it has become clear that the rapidly increasing digitalization of modern society goes hand in hand with security challenges. While criminals use cyberattacks to enrich themselves, major powers increasingly see cyberspace as an arena for conflict, where offensive cyber operations to steal secrets or sabotage vital infrastructure of their adversaries have become a daily activity.
On the other hand, there is little agreement on what cyber security is, how it is understood and practiced. While the cybersecurity industry frames the problem from a technical understanding that requires a technical solution in a kind of cat and mouse game between attacker and defender, politicians and strategists see this as a great power game where attack is often the best defense. These different interpretations of what cybersecurity is and how it can be achieved form the basis for CYKNOW.
CYKNOW starts from the premise that what cybersecurity is, is not a given, but is rather an effect of various processes that configure different actors, practices, technologies and discourses. Configurations that consequently produce different ways of understanding, experiencing and practicing what we generally refer to as cybersecurity. In other words, cybersecurity is best understood as an ongoing process shaped by different elements that mutually transform each other.
Through an interdisciplinary approach that fuses social sciences with science and technology studies and computational design and engineering, CYKNOW develops a new analytical framework for studying cybersecurity. Although CYKNOW draws special attention to the importance of studying sociotechnical systems and its practices, it builds a methodological approach that allows for engaging multiple levels and structural concepts simultaneously. This framework enables an exploration of how knowledge about the digital threat landscape is produced by both strategists and engineers, how these understandings are mutually formed, and how policies and practices for cybersecurity emerge as a result.
CYKNOW will promote better understanding of cyber security, as well as develop novel theoretical and methodological tools for cybersecurity research in particular. In addition to shifting the academic research agenda around cybersecurity and international politics,
CYKNOW is designed to facilitate increased understanding between the technical and political environments, as well as to inform and expand political debates around cybersecurity and its implications.
Linda Monsees, IIR, Prague
Tim Stevens, KCL, London
Myriam Dunn Cavelty, ETHZ, Zurich