This article is published in the August 2016 issue.

Sociotechnical Cybersecurity Workshop Call For White Papers

US imgThe Computing Community Consortium (CCC) will be sponsoring a visioning activity on Sociotechnical Cybersecurity. As a part of this effort, the workshop organizing committee has released a call for white papers in order to both assist us in organizing the workshop and in selecting attendees. Authors of informative and well-crafted white papers may be invited to the Sociotechnical Cybersecurity workshop.

The full call for proposals is below:

Sociotechnical Cybersecurity Workshop Call For White Papers

We are holding a Computing Community Consortium-sponsored workshop in the first half of 2017 with the goal of developing a small set of grand challenges to set research directions for the discipline of cybersecurity, with the understanding that the systems requiring cybersecurity are sociotechnical, and so the approaches must be firmly sociotechnical as well. Workshop attendance will be by invitation only and travel expenses will be provided. We seek short white papers to both assist us in organizing the workshop and in selecting attendees.

A sociotechnical approach to cybersecurity recognizes that the science and technology deployed to protect and defend our information and critical infrastructure must consider human, social, organizational, economic, and technical factors, as well as the complex interaction among them, in the creation, maintenance, and operation of our systems and infrastructure. Furthermore, measuring the efficacy and efficiency of different approaches empirically, economically, or mathematically is often a sociotechnical issue.

This workshop is motivated by the new federal R&D strategic plan in cybersecurity, released in January 2016, that engages the sociotechnical nature of the systems that we are securing and that emphasizes the need for understanding the efficacy of different approaches. To make meaningful progress in sociotechnical cybersecurity requires innovation driven by informational and experiential diversity. Workshop attendees will be drawn from a broad set of disciplines in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, as well as from computer science and data analytics. Attendees will also be drawn from academics, industry, and the public sector.

To better understand the breadth and nature of sociotechnical cybersecurity issues, we are soliciting white papers of no more than two pages in length that describe and motivate a novel grand challenge in cybersecurity. Grand challenges are difficult to solve, require major advances in knowledge and capabilities, and often drastically alter the boundaries of established disciplines. Effective cybersecurity grand challenge problems should be sociotechnical, and can consider diverse contexts such as the individual, the organization, or society. We are especially interested in problems that advocate an evidence-based sociotechnical cybersecurity approach, that integrate the best research evidence with diverse cybersecurity expertise, and that broaden the consideration of information and communication technology user characteristics.

White papers should:

  • Describe the problem to be solved, and why it is important
  • Articulate why the problem rises to the level of a grand challenge
  • Explain why the grand challenge requires a sociotechnical approach and which communities (academic, policy, industry, etc.) and disciplines need to be engaged in solving it

Sample topics could include but are not limited to:

  • Develop a holistic approach to phishing that takes into account human behavior, social engineering, technology-based approaches, and organizational policy.
  • Study combined behavioral, economic, and technology-based approaches to the Internet of Things that will allow for controlling or closing attack surfaces created by internet-enabled sensors and actuators.
  • Calculate the total costs of cyberattacks, cyberincidents, and data breaches, as well as the total costs to deter such events.
  • Develop methods that deter and defend against attacks waged using social media that create confusion and destabilize societies.
  • Develop economic and legal approaches that can lead to changes in federal and corporate policies that currently reduce our abilities to protect cyberinfrastructure.

A planning meeting before the workshop will develop the workshop agenda, and these white papers will be part of the discussion. Some of the white paper authors may be invited to participate in this planning meeting.

Please submit your white paper by September 30, 2016. We will accept submissions via email to For more information, please visit here. Should you have any questions, please contact

Thank you,

The organizing committee:

Lorenzo Alvisi, professor of computer science at the University of Texas, Austin

Deanna Caputo, principle behavioral psychologist, MITRE

Paul Dourish, professor of informatics, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, UC Irvine

Stephanie Forrest, distinguished professor of computer science, University of New Mexico

Qing Hu, professor of information systems and associate dean for Academic Initiatives and Innovation in the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College – the City University of New York

Brian LaMacchia, director of security and cryptography, Microsoft Research

Oded Nov, professor, department of technology management and innovation, Tandon School of Engineering, New York University

Sasha Romanosky, policy researcher, RAND Corporation

Stefan Savage, professor in the department of computer science and engineering, UC San Diego

Timothy Summers, professor and director of innovation, entrepreneurship, and engagement in the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Susan Winter, associate dean for research, College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Heng Xu, Professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, Pennsylvania State University