House hearing on cybersecurity references importance of social sciences

NSF’s Farnam Jahanian emphasized the importance of “recognizing humans in the loop and studying human-systems integration”
On May 25, two House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees held a joint hearing on “Protecting Information in the Digital Age: Federal Cybersecurity Research and Development Efforts.” Witnesses from a number of relevant federal agencies testified, including Dr. Farnam Jahanian, Assistant Director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Jahanian noted that “NSF’s cyber security research portfolio includes projects addressing security from the microscopic level, detecting whether a silicon chip may contain a malicious circuit, to the macroscopic level, determining strategies for securing the next generation electrical power grid, as well as at the human level, studying online privacy and security behaviors….” Following the witnesses’ oral testimony, Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) asked the panel to explicitly address how social, behavioral and economic (SBE) sciences are integrated into their federal research portfolios, noting that he felt strongly about inclusion of human-centered research in this area. In contrast, Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL) questioned the relevance and expertise of SBE sciences to cybersecurity efforts. In response to both, NSF’s Jahanian emphasized the importance of “recognizing humans in the loop and studying human-systems integration” in order to both understand and “incentivize” behavior in cyberspace.