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21.08.18- AHS 5|18 - Human-centred Cyber Security, adopting an innovators mind-set

Cyber security incidents make the headlines regularly. Their impact is widely felt, and they affect us all directly and personally.

The Equifax breach exposed personal data of about 145 million people. WannaCry forced the UK’s National Health Service to cancel thousands of surgical operations and appointments. A.P. Moller-Maersk reported a $300 million loss because of the NotPetya malware.

Because of new laws like the GDPR for data privacy protection, cyber incidents are a growing economic threat for organizations and enterprises.

Mounting resources are spent on advanced security technology, which is generally expected to suppress cybercrime - an increasingly global threat from creative criminals exploiting digital assets and subverting social engineering.

My point is that the current, tech-focused approach to improving cyber security will prove inefficient and even ineffective.


I propose combining cyber security and human-centric innovation by applying the concepts of socio-technical systems to today’s cyber security challenges. The approach emerged from field research in British coal mines during WWII, which showed that the interplay of social and technical factors could ensure successful organization-wide performance, while independent optimization of social and technical factors couldn’t.

Similarly, efficient and effective cyber-security calls for a holistic and systemic approach, which combines social and technical measures.

This novel approach is alien to most technology-oriented IT departments. I advocate the combination of advanced technology with human-centred innovation.

I advocate an in-depth understanding of existing cyber security challenges leading to solutions, which are humanly viable, technically robust and economically justifiable.

To achieve this, I engage my project teams in Design Thinking workshops, a methodology focusing on understanding problems before solutions are devised. In the process, we emulate the creativity of criminal hackers exploiting systems and people and develop innovative and effective countermeasures.


Only the proper mix of technology and social aspects can secure powerful solutions against cybercrime. Technology is widely available, but smart solutions also require creativity in the soft area of human factors.

REFERENT:  Tom Hofmann, Manager Advisory Services, Ernst & Young AG

Tom Hofmann is a cyber-security enthusiast with a passion for innovation. For the last 18 years, he implemented projects from the Finnish polar circle to the megacity of Tokyo. His focus lies on why (cyber) security doesn't become more efficient and effective as technology progresses, and on how human-centred innovation can be leveraged to achieve a joint optimization of complex social and technical systems. He holds an Executive Diploma in IT Business Management from the renowned Universität of St.Gallen, Switzerland. Besides his passion for technology and innovation, he is also engaged in various inclusion and diversity projects, like the Ladies in Mechanical and Electrical Studies (LIMES) Researchers initiative at ETH Zürich.

SPRACHE: englisch

Ort: Detecon (Schweiz) AG, Löwenstrasse 1, 4. OG, 8001 Zürich

Datum / Zeit: Dienstag, 21. August 2018; 16:40 - 17:40 - Anschliessend Apéro und Networking

CPE Hours: 1