February 3, 2021

Behavioral Economics & InfoSec w/ Kelly Shortridge

by Cyber Ranch

Show Notes

Behavioral Economics has altered our perceptions of what actually motivates human beings. How do these theories about our more primitive behaviors as well as our intellectual biases apply to information security? Allan Alford & Kelly Shortridge discuss in the context of infosec programs and events in a whirlwind of conversation. Sponsored by our friends at AttackIQ Podcast: The Cyber Ranch Podcast Episode 2: Behavioral Economics and InfoSec with Kelly Shortridge On this episode of The Cyber Ranch Podcast, host Allan Alford is joined by Kelly Shortridge, VP of Product Management at Capsule8. Their conversation begins with Kelly introducing herself and her work. She works in products for a security vendor, and she’s done research into applying behavioral economics to security. Kelly says she grew up with a love of computers, but was mostly about building gaming rigs side of things. Her career in information security began in the investment banking industry, which led her to fall in love with security. Next, Allan asks Kelly about her work in behavioral economics. Economics is the study of choice, behavioral economics looks at the way humans actually behave by conducting experiments and observing natural occurrences. Humans don’t always behave in the rational, textbook way, but Kelly explains that often their choices are rational when you factor in competing priorities. In information security, this shows up when folks find themselves reacting to threats that have the most attention, rather than those that are proven to be the most pressing. Information security is also affected by hindsight and outcome biases. Kelly explains how our brains try to trick us into blaming a single factor in a crisis, but that is not how the real world or cyber attacks work. Now that behavioral economics has clued us in to the biases formed by what Kelly affectionately refers to as our “lizard brains,” Allan wonders if we should be optimistic about how we may think and prevent attacks in the future. Kelly isn’t so sure. She explains that changing some systems to be more compatible with our lizard brain has been effective, however knowing how we think doesn’t help people think differently. In InfoSec, there are opportunities to continue making the secure way the easiest way, and circumvent the lizard brain. Other industries have been designing systems and workloads based on the way people behave; Kelly says InfoSec is just behind the curve. As the episode ends, Allan asks Kelly what keeps her still in InfoSec. Kelly says it is spite. There are still inefficiencies and an industry that pats itself on the back for doing little, that makes her spiteful she says. She wants to be an industry member that adds value to organizations and highlights the user. Follow Kelly on Twitter as @swagitda_ or on LinkedIn at Kelly Shortridge Learn more about Allan and the Cyber Ranch Podcast at Hacker Valley Studio Sponsored by our good friends at AttackIQ