Trust and vulnerability in the cybersecurity context

Searle, Rosalind and Renaud, Karen (2023) Trust and vulnerability in the cybersecurity context. In: Hawaii International Conference on System Science 2023, 2023-01-03 - 2023-01-06, Hayat Regency MAUI.

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Cybersecurity attacks offer a pertinent context within which to examine the currently under-explored dynamics of trust and distrust and their consequences for organisations and their employees. Such attacks wreak havoc in organisations, costly both in financial and reputational terms. We outline the dynamic, multi-level processes following initial attack making salient vulnerability to an unseen exploiter, and then making germane trust and trustworthiness in a number of relationships in an employing organisation. Drawing from events theory, we devise a multi-level conceptual trust model of the interrelations between the emotional, cognitive and social processes an attack can produce, to distinguish two paths revealing their markedly different durations, magnitudes, and level of relational and threat consequences. We explore these as dynamic experiences of trust to elucidate vulnerability and its experience and management for the targeted individual, with key organisational actors. This leads to the formation of an anchoring event that creates enduring changes to multiple relationships within the organisation with consequences for individual, team and organisational resilience and risk.