Last week, I wrote about the two main tribes that face off against each other when we discuss or try to do cybersecurity. These are the Wooly Headed Wonks and the Propeller Headed Geeks. My conclusions (not particularly Earth shattering in nature) were that we really needed to have both these groups work together if we are to have a hope of being successful (OK, less unsuccessful).

Not a day after my post went live, I attended an event at the National Press Club that introduced me to yet another tribe that is a key to the cybersecurity issue set. It is actually a subset of the Wooly Headed Wonks but a particularly important one.

If the Wonks are mainly lawyers and political science/international relations types, the sub-tribe are the behavioral social scientists (I haven’t got a cute name for them, sorry). These non-political social scientists study demographics, human/machine interfaces, opinion polls and group behaviors. For the most part, they get overwhelmed in academia by the Geeks. Their Wonk cousins don’t help, because they are too busy “making policy” to worry about what might or might not work. The Geeks declare that a product, device or system “works” because it works in the lab. The Non-Pol Soc-Sci’s actually talk to the human on the street.

I am not trying to beat up on any one group, because as I noted, we need them all. Not only that, we need them to work as a team. If we fail to do that, we will never get back in the race, and right now, we’re losing.

America and her allies have the people to deal with the challenges of cybersecurity; we simply need to get them all in harness and pulling together. We need to stop ignoring each other, assuming that the other guys are irrelevant (or at least less relevant). None of the three tribes has all the answers. Only when we get in step will we make real progress.

So to the Non-Pol Soc-Sci sub-tribe, I say “welcome to the scrum.” The Wonks and the Geeks need your insights and inputs. Let’s get to work!

Dr. Steven Bucci is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He was previously a lead consultant to IBM on cyber security policy. Bucci’s military and government service make him a recognized expert in the interagency process and defense of U.S. interests, particularly with regard to critical infrastructure and what he calls the productive interplay of government and the private sector. Read More