Rethinking Cybersecurity: Challenging the Commoditisation and Embracing Restorative Practices

In the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, organisations must move away from fear-based strategies and embrace users as allies in a collaborative cybersecurity effort. This opinion piece discusses the ongoing friction between users and security teams.

Rethinking Cybersecurity: Challenging the Commoditisation and Embracing Restorative Practices

Since I started in Cybersecurity, I have observed that cybersecurity has become dominated by insincere vendors and practitioners driven solely by profit.
As a cybersecurity leader, I have also noticed the increasing commoditisation of cybersecurity over the years, and it's important for us to address this issue.

Going deeper into the motives, I realised the significance of my blog's title. Initially, I chose the name to reflect the current state of cybersecurity, where my work felt repetitive and inconsequential, like an assembly line. However, regardless of the organisation, the same recurring non-technical issues persisted.

The primary challenge lies in the way security practitioners interact with the people they are meant to protect within these organisations. Those outside the security team are often victim-shamed and blamed for their perceived ignorance as if they are at fault for not prioritising cybersecurity in their daily work.

Security organisations sometimes oppress the very people they are meant to serve. This behaviour struck me as counterproductive and degrading, particularly as I familiarised myself with nonviolent communication and other conflict-resolution techniques. I wondered whether adopting peacebuilding methods could foster collaboration and alignment among stakeholders. While only a few security practitioners initially showed interest, the transition to DevOps and shift left strategy, emphasising these attributes, attracted like-minded individuals.

Additionally, the way users are treated is like the punitive and shaming approach commonly seen in the criminal justice system. However, this approach has not reduced crime or supported victims. On the other hand, restorative justice, which focuses on repairing the harm caused by crime and restoring the community while respecting the dignity of all involved parties, has shown promise.

Evidence suggests that traditional fear-based and shaming tactics have not effectively promoted user compliance in cybersecurity. Instead, creating a supportive workplace environment has been identified as a more practical approach to encouraging voluntary security behaviours.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of cybersecurity, organisations must adapt their approaches. Rather than relying on fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD)-based strategies, we must acknowledge the value of users as allies and reposition cybersecurity as a collaborative effort. This involves a fundamental shift in the industry, prioritising collaboration, understanding, and support to foster a culture of proactive cybersecurity measures. By moving away from fear-based tactics and embracing a more cooperative approach, organisations will be better equipped to mitigate threats and safeguard information.