Computing Reviews

Behavioral cybersecurity: applications of personality psychology and computer science
Patterson W., Winston-Proctor C., CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2019. 261 pp. Type: Book
Date Reviewed: 06/21/22

It is a well-known fact that the weakest element of all cryptographic systems is a human being. No matter how smart mathematical methods are embedded to protect our network and computer infrastructures, nor how precisely we design the precautionary procedures, they will be considerably weakened by careless and unaware users. This book provides some useful information on this phenomenon.

The book is composed of many very short chapters (27 overall) covering various aspects of cybersecurity. They do not follow, consequently, the suggestion given by the title of the book, since some of the chapters simply present basic material on the fundamentals of cybersecurity infrastructures. Nevertheless, I like how the classical cybersecurity material is interwoven with some concepts on how psychological research might deepen our understanding of the area. The book covers the following topics: an introduction to the most fundamental notions and concepts of both cybersecurity and behavioral sciences, as well as the relationships between them (including, for instance, profiling and social engineering), popular attacks with notable stories, access control (with authorization), basics of symmetric and asymmetric cryptography systems (with some mathematical treatment), along with steganography, usage of game theory in cybersecurity, ethical hacking, understanding human behavior and behavioral economics, and also many minor topics.

I appreciate the idea that the book is authored by a specialist in cybersecurity and an expert in human behavior. Thus, both aspects dealt with in the text are properly covered and balanced. In fact, although the title suggests one of many aspects of cybersecurity, the work can be read as a general introduction to the topic. Maybe not as a regular textbook per se, but for sure a beginner’s guide to the issue, for instance, a high school student interested in general computer science. On the other hand, any Internet users interested in protecting themselves should read this kind of work. Interested readers will find a list of various positions related to each of the chapters to make it possible to extend the contents. These positions do not embrace only scientific literature. Additionally, comprehension of the provided data is strengthened by the lists of interesting problems given at the end of the chapters. They also encourage readers to actively seek out additional information to extend their understanding.

The book is full of stories and anecdotes. This way, the content is conveyed in a vivid and attention-grabbing manner. It is a good starting point for one’s journey into the world of cybersecurity.

Reviewer:  Piotr Cholda Review #: CR147457

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