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Turning Contradictions into Innovations or: How We Learned to Stop Whining and Improve Security Operations
Sathya Chandran Sundaramurthy, University of South Florida; John McHugh, RedJack, LLC; Xinming Ou, University of South Florida; Michael Wesch and Alexandru G. Bardas, Kansas State University; S. Raj Rajagopalan, Honeywell Labs
Efforts to improve the efficiency of security operation centers (SOCs) have emphasized building tools for analysts or understanding the human and organizational factors involved. The importance of viewing the viability of a solution from multiple perspectives has been largely ignored. Multiple perspectives arise because of inherent con icts among the objectives a SOC has to meet and differences between the goals of the parties involved. During the 3.5 years that we have used anthropological fieldwork methods to study SOCs, we discovered that successful SOC innovations must resolve these conflicts to be effective in improving operational efficiency. This discovery was guided by Activity Theory (AT), which provided a framework for analyzing our fieldwork data. We use the version of AT proposed by Engestrom to model SOC operations. Template analysis, a qualitative data analysis technique, guided by AT validated the existence of contradictions in SOCs. The same technique was used to elicit from the data concrete contradictions and how they were resolved. Our analysis provide evidence of the importance of conflict resolution as a prerequisite for operations improvement. AT enabled us to understand why some of our innovations worked in the SOCs we studied (and why others failed). AT helps us see a potentially successful and repeatable mechanism for introducing new technologies to future SOCs. Understanding and supporting all of the spoken and unspoken requirements of SOC analysts and managers appears to be the only way to get new technologies accepted and used in SOCs.
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