Understanding Operator Fatigue, Frustration, and Cognitive Workload in Tactical Cybersecurity Operations

Abstract:

While the human factors of mission critical systemd weapons systems have been extensively studied, there has been little work on cyber operations. As with any system, the perfect storm of complex tasks in a high-risk environment takes an incredible toll on human operators, leading to errors, decreased performance, and burnout. An extensive studtacticaly of  cyber operations at the National Security Agency found that operator fatigue,  frustration,  and  cognitive  workload  significantly  increase  over  the  course  of  an operation. A discussion of these findings helps us understand the impact that the high-stress, high-risk environment of tactical cyber operations has on its ops such as air traffic control anerators.


AUTHORS

Research Directorate National Security Agency Fort George G. Meade, MD
U.S.A.

Dr. Celeste Lyn Paul is a Researcher in the Computer and Analytic Sciences Research Group at the National Security Agency. Her work focuses on understanding the human factors of cybersecurity. Before joining the NSA, she spent many years in open source software leading usability and design efforts while serving on the Kubuntu Council and KDE e.V. Board of Directors. She earned a doctorate in Human-Centered Computing from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Photo of Dr. Josiah Dykstra

Research Directorate National Security Agency Fort George G. Meade,
MD, U.S.A.

Dr. Josiah Dykstra is a Researcher and Subject Matter Expert with the Laboratory for Telecommunication Sciences at the National Security Agency. He is the author of one book, Essential cybersecurity science (Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, 2016), and 10 articles.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Hope College in 2002, a master’s degree in Information Assurance from Iowa State University in 2004, and a doctorate in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2013. He is a lifetime member of the Association for Computing Machinery, a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  In 2017, he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). His research interests include digital forensics, cloud computing, network security, human factors, and augmented reality.

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