Applying Soft Systems Methodology to Complex Problem Situations in Critical Infrastructures: The CS-AWARE Case Study
Modern technology, in addition to all its benefits, creates new threats and attack vectors to individuals and organisations. In the past years the number of cyber attacks has increased drastically as has the extent of their effects. These circumstances clearly show that a different approach to cybersecurity is required: a holistic, collaborative strategy to improve the security situation for society and the economy as a whole. In the European Union, the legal framework that is currently developing (like the network and information security (NIS) directive), recognises the increasing need for cooperation and collaboration among individual actors to improve cybersecurity. Information sharing is therefore one of the key elements of the NIS directive. In this paper, we present and demonstrate a system and dependency analysis based on soft systems thinking that is able to capture the relations between assets and their internal and external dependencies in the complex systems of organisations like critical infrastructures or other organisations that base their operations on complex systems and interactions. The analysis approach introduced is done in a socio-technological manner; the human aspect of the systems is considered as important as the technical or organisational aspects. The case study presented in this paper, covering the first steps towards the development of a holistic cybersecurity awareness solution, is based on three focus points: an initial threat assessment for LPAs, an analysis of external information sources and an analysis of the piloting scenarios based on the first round of soft systems analysis workshops. The results of which are essential to the development of the solutions implementation framework and further software development.
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