The Role of Cognitive Biases in Anticipating and Responding to Cyberattacks

Arnela Ceric, Peter Holland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of four cognitive biases, namely, selective perception, exposure to limited alternatives, adjustment and anchoring, and illusion of control in anticipating and responding to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
The paper is based on exploratory case study research and secondary data on decision making in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in regards to planning and managing DDoS attacks on Census day in 2016.
Cognitive biases limited the ABS's awareness of the eCensus system’s vulnerabilities, preparation for and management of DDoS attacks. Cyberattacks are on the increase, and managers should expect and be prepared to deal with them.
Due to the sensitivity of the topic, it was not possible to interview relevant stakeholders. Analysis is based on high-quality secondary data that includes comprehensive government reports investigating the events on Census day.
Cyberattacks are inevitable and not an aberration. A checklist of actions is identified to help organisations avoid the failures revealed in our case study. Managers need to increase their awareness of cyberattacks, develop clear processes for dealing with them and increase the robustness of their decision-making processes relating to cybersecurity.
This we believe is the first major study of the DDoS attacks on the Australian census. DDoS is a security reality of the 21st century and this case study illustrates the significance of cognitive biases and their impact on developing effective decisions and conducting regular risk assessments in managing cyberattacks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalInformation Technology and People
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Sep 2018

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census
Managers
Decision making
selective perception
manager
Aberrations
Risk assessment
risk assessment
decision-making process
Statistics
vulnerability
Planning
statistics
stakeholder
Denial-of-service attack
decision making
planning
event
interview

Cite this

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abstract = "The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of four cognitive biases, namely, selective perception, exposure to limited alternatives, adjustment and anchoring, and illusion of control in anticipating and responding to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.The paper is based on exploratory case study research and secondary data on decision making in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in regards to planning and managing DDoS attacks on Census day in 2016.Cognitive biases limited the ABS's awareness of the eCensus system’s vulnerabilities, preparation for and management of DDoS attacks. Cyberattacks are on the increase, and managers should expect and be prepared to deal with them.Due to the sensitivity of the topic, it was not possible to interview relevant stakeholders. Analysis is based on high-quality secondary data that includes comprehensive government reports investigating the events on Census day.Cyberattacks are inevitable and not an aberration. A checklist of actions is identified to help organisations avoid the failures revealed in our case study. Managers need to increase their awareness of cyberattacks, develop clear processes for dealing with them and increase the robustness of their decision-making processes relating to cybersecurity.This we believe is the first major study of the DDoS attacks on the Australian census. DDoS is a security reality of the 21st century and this case study illustrates the significance of cognitive biases and their impact on developing effective decisions and conducting regular risk assessments in managing cyberattacks.",
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The Role of Cognitive Biases in Anticipating and Responding to Cyberattacks. / Ceric, Arnela; Holland, Peter.

In: Information Technology and People, 24.09.2018, p. 1-18.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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