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‘Cyber Gurus’: A rhetorical analysis of the language of cybersecurity specialists and the implications for security policy and critical infrastructure protection.

This paper draws on the psychology of risk and “management guru” literature (Huczynski, 2006) to examine how cybersecurity risks are constructed and communicated by cybersecurity specialists. We conduct a rhetorical analysis of ten recent cybersecurity publications ranging from popular media to academic and technical articles. We find most cybersecurity specialists in the popular domain use management guru techniques and manipulate common cognitive limitations in order to over-dramatize and over-simplify cybersecurity risks to critical infrastructure (CI). We argue there is a role for government: to collect, validate and disseminate more data among owners and operators of CI; to adopt institutional arrangements with an eye to moderating exaggerated claims; to reframe the debate as one of trade-offs between threats and opportunities as opposed to one of survival; and, finally, to encourage education programs in order to stimulate a more informed debate over the longer term.
Kevin Quigley, Calvin Burns, Kristen Stallard
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Industry Focus: 
Internet & Cyberspace
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