Entanglements and Exploits: Sociotechnical Security as an Analytic Framework


Matt Goerzen, Data & Society Research Institute; ​Elizabeth Anne Watkins, Columbia University; Gabrielle Lim, Data & Society Research Institute


The rise of social media platforms has produced novel security threats and vulnerabilities. Malicious actors can now exploit entanglements of once disparate technical and social systems to target exposed communities. These exploits pose a challenge to legacy security frameworks drawn from technical and state-based conceptions of referent objects and bounded information systems. In this paper we propose a new framework of analysis to meet this challenge, Sociotechnical Security (STsec), which acknowledges how the interplay between actors produces emergent threats to participant communities. This exploratory paper offers an overview of sociotechnical systems, explains why these threats and vulnerabilities require us to expand our understanding of security with regards to participatory technology, and how sociotechnical security can be operationalized as a framework for analysis.

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@inproceedings {239066,
author = {Matt Goerzen and ​Elizabeth Anne Watkins and Gabrielle Lim},
title = {Entanglements and Exploits: Sociotechnical Security as an Analytic Framework},
booktitle = {9th USENIX Workshop on Free and Open Communications on the Internet (FOCI 19)},
year = {2019},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/foci19/presentation/goerzen},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug