Benjamin Brown

Information Security at Akamai Technologies

Benjamin Brown currently works on systems safety, adversarial resilience, and threat intelligence at Akamai Technologies. He has experience in Non-profit, Academia, and the corporate world as well as degrees in both Anthropology and International Studies. Research interests include the psychology, anthropology, and sociology of information security, threat actor profiling, and thinking about security as an ecology of complex systems.

Presentation: Cognitive Bias and Critical Thinking in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)

When gathering open source data and transforming it into actionable intelligence, it is critical to recognize that humans are not objective observers. Conscious and unconscious assumptions drive analysts’ choices about which data to analyze and how much importance to ascribe to each resource. Furthermore, analysts’ personal conceptual frameworks about reality and how the world works can undermine the process of objectively translating data into intelligence. These implicit assumptions, otherwise known as cognitive biases, can lead to missed data, skewed intelligence, illogical conclusions, and poor decision making. In this presentation I will illustrate some of the cognitive biases relevant to OSINT and what can be done about them.

Frankly, a good deal of the InfoSec threat intelligence being published is terrible. Our sources and methodologies are underdeveloped and often times not even accessible. There is much at work in the way of undeclared or unrealized assumption and bias that analysts and producers are failing to address. This is my attempt to begin the dialogue and lay the ground-work for pulling these assumptions and biases out of our blindspots and into the light where we can mitigate them with structured frameworks and transparent methodologies.

Presentation @DefCamp 2014