Is War the Right Metaphor? Alternative Models for Network Security

Prof Steven Graham
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War is overwhelmingly the metaphor of choice in discussions of security in the networked world. The metaphors chosen inevitably color our conceptual model of a domain and influence how we perceive the problems and what we can imagine as potential solutions. When a metaphor is as dominant as the war metaphor is for information security, reflection is essential. To avoid metaphorical blindness, we must examine our use of such metaphors, recognize their strengths and value, but also pinpoint the ways the metaphors are misleading and limiting.

One approach to identifying weaknesses of a metaphor is to consider alternatives. Alternatives can be hard to come by; obvious metaphors would already be in use. New metaphors will not seem to suit the domain as well, however, they necessarily highlight different aspects, both problems and possibilities. We will adopt less biased terminology, and can speak of information "assurance" rather than "security". In information assurance, three goals are fundamental: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. There is little connection between these goals and war, so they can provide leverage while searching for alternative metaphors. We will examine metaphors inspired by their connections with the fundamental goals. Applying new metaphors to information assurance yields new perspectives and the opportunity to review and recast the problems, priorities, and possibilities of the field.

Keywords: Network Security, Internet Security, Information Assurance, Information, Confidentiality, Integrity, Metaphor, Availability
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof Steven Graham

Assistant Professor, College of Business and Information Systems, Dakota State University

Ref: T05P0009