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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

363. Unveiling the Power of Cyber Anthropology with Lianne Potter

In this episode of The Brainy Business podcast, you will hear an insightful conversation between host Melina Palmer and Lianne Potter, a cybersecurity consultant with a background in anthropology. Lianne’s unique journey from being a software developer to entering the field of cybersecurity provides a valuable perspective on understanding user behavior and cultural nuances in technology. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing the human element in cybersecurity and highlights the need for businesses to bridge the gap between the security team and other departments. 

By incorporating disciplines such as anthropology, psychology, and behavioral economics, organizations can gain a deeper understanding of why humans behave the way they do, ultimately leading to a stronger security culture. Lianne also shares her thoughts on the metaverse and the significance of direct communication platforms in shaping our digital interactions. This episode sheds light on the role of anthropology in cybersecurity and offers practical insights for cybersecurity professionals and business leaders seeking to improve their understanding of human behavior and cultural nuances in security practices.

In this episode:

  • Understand the cultural nuances within your organization to develop tailored cybersecurity practices that align with user behavior.
  • Discover how human behavior influences the security practices within your organization and how to leverage this knowledge to enhance cybersecurity.
  • Foster a stronger security culture within your organization by recognizing and addressing the unique challenges and motivations of your employees.
  • Incorporate the principles of anthropology into your business processes to gain a deeper understanding of your organization’s security practices and how they can be improved.
  • Gain insight into the relationship between human behavior and security practices to effectively implement strategies that mitigate cyber risks.
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SHOW NOTES:

00:00:00 – Introduction,

In this episode, Melina Palmer introduces Lianne Potter, a cyber anthropologist. Lianne shares her expertise in cyber anthropology, which involves applying the principles of anthropology to understand and improve cybersecurity cultures.

00:03:11 – Understanding Cybersecurity Culture
Lianne explains the importance of understanding cybersecurity culture, from individual users to security teams within organizations. By addressing resistance and finding solutions, cultural security transformation becomes easier and more effective.

00:05:55 – Becoming a Cyber Anthropologist
Lianne discusses how she became a cyber anthropologist and the early challenges of studying digital cultures. She highlights the impact of virtual spaces on relationships, the replication of societal structures, and the need to preserve digital artifacts.

00:09:59 – Applying Anthropology in Real-Life
Lianne shares her experience working for a charity and applying her anthropology skills to solve issues of destitution. She encountered the digital divide, where vulnerable individuals faced social disadvantages due to a lack of access to online services.

00:13:45 – The Human-Centric Approach to Security
Lianne emphasizes the importance of a human-centric approach to security. By understanding the human factors and motivations behind cybersecurity behaviors, organizations can create more effective security practices and mitigate risks.

00:16:54 – Introduction to Technology and Anthropology
Lianne talks about her experience growing up with a family computer and her interest in computer programming. She shares how she used free online resources and attended tech meetups to teach herself programming. Lianne also explains how her background in anthropology influenced her approach to technology.

00:18:30 – Applying Anthropology to Technology in the NHS
Lianne discusses her first job as a software developer in the UK National Health Service (NHS) and how she applied anthropology to ensure that technology was created with the end user in mind. She emphasizes the importance of considering cultural nuances when developing technology for a diverse range of customers.

00:20:12 – Transition to Cybersecurity
Lianne shares her curiosity about a security team within her organization and her determination to join them. She explains how she became fascinated with cybersecurity and eventually transitioned into the field. Lianne highlights the cultural differences between cybersecurity teams and other tech teams.

00:23:57 – The Human Element in Cybersecurity
Lianne compares digital security to physical security and emphasizes the importance of the human element in cybersecurity. She suggests using technology, such as password managers, to reduce human errors. Lianne also discusses the perception of hackers and the complexity of policing in the virtual space.

00:27:56 – Language and Victim-Shaming in Cybersecurity
Lianne addresses the language used to describe victims of cyber incidents and highlights the victim-shaming culture. She emphasizes the need for empathy and understanding,

00:33:21 – The Vicious Cycle of Security Controls
The lack of communication and collaboration between different teams in an organization leads to a cycle of ineffective security controls. This cycle results in workarounds that are more dangerous than the threats they aim to protect against, making the organization more vulnerable.

00:34:59 – Changing the Security Culture
The security team must lead by example and be willing to change their own mindset and practices. Rather than blaming others for the lack of security culture, the security team needs to take responsibility and work towards improving their own approach to security.

00:35:52 – Leveraging User Research and User Experience Teams
Collaborating with user research and user experience teams can help the security team ask the right questions and gain a deeper understanding of user behaviors and needs. This collaboration can lead to innovative security solutions that prioritize user experience and make security measures more seamless and user-friendly.

00:39:14 – Participant Observation and Building Trust
Embracing the anthropological research technique of participant observation allows the security team to immerse themselves in different departments and understand their culture and challenges. By building trust and gaining insights into the unspoken issues and breakdowns in communication, the security team can address the root causes of poor security practices.

00:42:18 – The Metaverse and Identity
The concept of the metaverse raises questions about the necessity of avatars and separate platforms for communication. With the rise of direct communication channels like WhatsApp and LinkedIn messenger, the need for avatars

00:49:17 –  Conclusion,
Melina’s top insights from the conversation. What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.

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