Will World War III be fought in the cyber world?

Cyber-psychologist Dr. Mary Aiken explains the current threats to cybersecurity.

Hacking has become a full-time career option, a weapon of mass disruption and a way of compromising privacy on a global scale. The billions of connected devices being bought by businesses and consumers every year is expanding the attack surface at a rapid rate. So, are individuals and industry dealing with the challenge of protecting their devices from cradle to grave? If not, what needs to change and how quickly? Do we now need a more human-centered approach to how we design and engage with technology that reduces our vulnerability to threats and makes us more empowered?

Cyber-psychologist Mary Aiken will address such questions as a panelist keynoter at ARM TechCon in Santa Clara, Calif., this month. Specifically, she will answers questions about the role of psychology in fighting cyber threats during the presentation, “ Avoiding a Hacker’s Paradise ,” on Oct. 25, 2017 at 9:50 am.

Ahead of her talk, we asked Dr. Aiken about her work in cyber-psychology and how cyber dangers have changed in recent years.

Design News: Could you describe what it means to be a cyber-psychologist?

Aiken: Cyberpsychology is the study of the impact of technology on humankind. This involves everything from virtual environments to Internet psychology. My specialist area is Forensic Cyberpsychology, which focuses on abnormal and criminal behavior online. Cyberpsychology has been described as the “new psychology” and as a discipline is expected to enjoy exponential growth due to continued rapid acceleration of Internet technologies, and the unprecedentedly pervasive and profound influence of digital connectivity on human beings. 

Cyber-psychologist Mary Aiken will speak on the role of psychology in fighting cyber threats during the ARM TechCon   keynote presentation, “ Avoiding a Hacker’s Paradise ,” Oct. 25.

Design News: I’ve noticed your study of technology has moved from “humans interacting with technology” to cybercrime and cyberstalking. Has this been prompted by a growth in the nefarious use of technology?

Aiken: Many years ago, in one of my first lectures in Forensic Psychology the lecturer opened the lecture with “if you want to live a long and healthy life - then you should change your next of kin frequently” .  He was referring to incidences of domestic homicide, where the death of a person has resulted from violence, abuse, or neglect by a person they are related to or have been in an intimate relationship with. The lecture was inspirational and I became fascinated by forensic science.

Many years later I studied cyberpsychology and published papers on cyber babies; the impact of technology on the developing infant, and cyberchondria; that is, anxiety induced by escalation during online health-related search to review morbid or serious content. I became increasingly intrigued by how human behavior could mutate and become amplified and accelerated online, specifically criminal and malicious behaviour. This led me to focus on research in the areas of organized cybercrime, youth hacking, cyber behavioural profiling, and human factors in cybersecurity. It also led to my position as an academic advisor to Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.

Design News: In the time you studied cybersecurity, have you seen

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