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Sci Eng Ethics. 2014 Sep;20(3):701-15. doi: 10.1007/s11948-014-9551-y. Epub 2014 Apr 30.

Breaking the cyber-security dilemma: aligning security needs and removing vulnerabilities.

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Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich, Haldeneggsteig 4, IFW (C 25.1), 8092, Zurich, Switzerland,


Current approaches to cyber-security are not working. Rather than producing more security, we seem to be facing less and less. The reason for this is a multi-dimensional and multi-faceted security dilemma that extends beyond the state and its interaction with other states. It will be shown how the focus on the state and "its" security crowds out consideration for the security of the individual citizen, with detrimental effects on the security of the whole system. The threat arising from cyberspace to (national) security is presented as possible disruption to a specific way of life, one building on information technologies and critical functions of infrastructures, with relatively little consideration for humans directly. This non-focus on people makes it easier for state actors to militarize cyber-security and (re-)assert their power in cyberspace, thereby overriding the different security needs of human beings in that space. Paradoxically, the use of cyberspace as a tool for national security, both in the dimension of war fighting and the dimension of mass-surveillance, has detrimental effects on the level of cyber-security globally. A solution out of this dilemma is a cyber-security policy that is decidedly anti-vulnerability and at the same time based on strong considerations for privacy and data protection. Such a security would have to be informed by an ethics of the infosphere that is based on the dignity of information related to human beings.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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