A Cognitive Task Analysis for Cyber Situational Awareness

Mahoney1, S., Roth2, E., Steinke3, K., Pfautz1, J., Wu1, C., and Farry1, M.

Proceedings from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 54th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2010)

Cyber Network degradation and exploitation can covertly turn an organization’s technological strength into an operational weakness. It has become increasingly imperative, therefore, for an organization’s personnel to have an awareness of the state of the Cyber Network that they use to carry out their mission. Recent high-level government initiatives along with hacking and exploitation in the commercial realm highlight this need for general Cyber Situational Awareness (SA). While much of the attention in both the military and commercial cyber security communities is on abrupt and blunt attacks on the network, the most insidious cyber threat to organizations are subtle and persistent attacks leading to compromised databases, processing algorithms, and displays. We recently began an effort developing software tools to support the Cyber SA of users at varying levels of responsibility and expertise (i.e., not just the network administrators). This paper presents our approach and preliminar findings from a CTA we conducted with an operational subject matter expert to uncover the situational awareness requirements of such a tool. Results from our analysis indicate a list of preliminary categories of these requirements, as well as specific questions that will drive the design and development of our SA tool.

1 Charles River Analytics
2 Roth Cognitive Engineering
3 PatchPlus Consulting

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