Security Awareness Blog

Establishing a Human Sensor Network - #SecAwareSummit

image001Editor's Note: Ellen Powers is a cyber security threat awareness leader at MITRE. She is one of the speakers for the upcoming US Security Awareness Summit in Philadelphia August 19. Below she discusses her talk on building a Human Sensor network.

Technology controls are our best protection but do not cover the gamut of tactics and techniques from across the cyber threat landscape. We need a workforce who can fill the gap between technology and intrusion attempts.

In my upcoming SANS STH talk, Extending Your Human Sensor Network: Measurable Threat Defense, I will share the approach we used to prime the culture to not only become cyber aware but also to act as human sensors, spotting cyber attacks that may otherwise go undetected.

During the first year of operation, our human sensor network detected a third of advanced cyber attacks that reached inboxes. Keys to our success included: senior-level involvement; embedding the program in cyber operations; and a workforce willing to get into the game. Six years later, our human sensors are considered an important part of our threat-based defense.

Ask your cyber operations team what spear-phishing attacks worry them the most, and come prepared to learn how you might make a difference to your own organization's cyber defense. You will come away with a set of questions to scope it, concepts to focus it, and metrics to measure the progress of and make adjustments to your own human sensor network.

Bio: Ellen Powers started a human sensor network for The MITRE Corporation back in 2009. As a cyber security threat awareness leader, her work analyzing cyber threat attacks has led to a network of employees that can detect advanced cyber attacks before network-based sensors and signatures. She continues to work in the intersection of cyber threat analysis and human defense to address the range of prevention, detection, and cyber intelligence needs of the company and community.