Cyberattackin Computer Science
Acyberattack is a deliberate action by an individual or a group tomanipulate the code of a computer system, network or any othersimilar technology for malicious intents that may lead to disruptivesituations like identity theft and fraud (Minnaar, 2014).Cyberattacks have become rampant in the recent years as hackersbecome more sophisticated to the point where officials that deal withdata security are barely keeping up. The need for data security,especially in Computer Science is important so that sensitiveinformation and personal details do not find their way into the wronghands (Minnaar, 2014). This paper combines the research informationcollected through interviews and observation to assess the currentprotocols towards cyber security and the recommendations that canbest tackle the issue of cyberattacks.
Part1: Interview Protocol
Thecentral guiding research question is to determine the currentpractices that are carried out to enhance cyber security and todetermine if there are amendments that can improve data protection.
Thetarget population are the people that work in the InformationTechnology firms. These people comprise the group that is likely tohave firsthand experience with cases of cyber attacks. The personsthat will be interviewed will be randomly selected from differentlevels of operation, diverse backgrounds, ethnicity, and gender. Theestimated size of the final sample should be about 30 individuals.These thirty people will be divided among three different ITcompanies (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012).
Thebest type of interview tactic is the semi-structure format. Thisstyle will help the researcher gain more insight towards the issue oncyberattacks. A semi-structured interview will enable the interviewerto prepare questions that will be asked, and the action will makethem appear competent (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012). The intervieweewill also be able to provide more information that may be useful.This strategy is also helpful since the next stage in this study ofcyberattacks is to conduct an observation of the activities of thefirms. Using the knowledge gained from the interview, the researchercan compare them with what he or she observes in the field. Theinterviewee can be called back for a follow-up interviewee toreinforce the information gathered (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012).
Formatand schedule of questions
Theformat of the main questions will involve the first question thatwill inform the researcher about the background of the interviewee,their education, and experience so that it can be established thatthey are a good source of information for the study. A follow-upquestion will be to ask about the type of data that is stored at thecompany. The next question will be to ask about their knowledge oncyber attacks. The interviewer will then follow up on the response byasking if they have ever encountered such an attack in their firm. Ifthe response is affirmative, the next question will be to ask on thefrequency of the cyber attacks and which one was the most recent one.The other main question will be to ask for the measures that havebeen taken to hinder unwanted access to their information. Theinterviewee could then be asked about their opinion on whether thecurrent protocols on data security are effective. The final questionwill be to ask on the types of people that are authorized to accessthe firm’s data. Can anyone that work in the place gain all theinformation or there are levels of clearance to specific information?The interviewer can then wind up by thanking the person and theninforming them that there might be some follow-up questions later.
Theprobes that will be used in the process will tend to push theinterviewee towards a specific topic that the researcher had alreadyplanned on finding information (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012). Theneutral prompts will be used to reveal the views and opinions of theinterviewee to understand the general perspective of every personthat works in the field of Information Technology when it comes tocyberattacks and cybersecurity (Jacob & Furgerson, 2012).
Howlong have you worked for this firm?What are your responsibilities inthis company?What kind of data or information is normally stored inyour firm’s database? How is information handled and secured?Canany person in the firm gain access to all information available inthe database? If yes, how do they note the specific user that hasviewed some data? If no, what criterion is used to determine who canaccess what?Have you ever heard about cyber attacks?Has your firmever experienced such a breach? If yes, what happened? How often dosuch attacks occur? Have any measures been taken towards handlingsuch attacks? Do you think those measures are effective? If no, whatwould you recommend?Do you think that the data stored here is verysecure? If no, why, and how can it be further protected? Does thefirm provide any training for the staff on data security? Do you haveany recommendations that might enhance cyber security in yourcompany?
Locationand length of interviews
Themost preferred location would be a neutral place like a park orrestaurant where the interviewee will feel comfortable. Conductingthe interview at the place of work of the interviewee might make themuneasy. Hence, they may not divulge some critical information.However, the number of people that will be interviewed are many andthe time for a face to face meeting with each one of them may be hardto find. These people also have busy schedules and creating time forthe interview might be difficult. Interviews via Skype will beanother alternative for the respondents who may have limited time ontheir hands. The last resort will be to carry out the interviewthrough phone calls. The estimated time for each interview is betweenfifteen to thirty minutes depending on the amount of informationgiven by the respondent.
Thebest way of recording the interviews is through a tape recorder. Theinformation can then be transcribed into noted at a later time. Shortnotes can be taken concurrently while recording as long as it doesnot compromise the listening skills of the interviewer (Rowley,2012).
Theparamount method of reviewing and analyzing the data collected fromthe interviews will be to use the triangulating model. Theparticipants in the research team can evaluate the interview notes todetermine the outcomes (Rowley, 2012). Using the model, similarinformation can be merged together, and the inconsistent ones arenoted. The process entails finding patterns in the responses so thatthe irregular ones can be seen as the untrustworthy findings (Rowley,2012). The methodology is that of a qualitative research because theresults are not figures but words and even direct quotations (Rowley,2012). The aim of the study is to find out the opinions, feelings,and notions towards cyber attacks. The consensus of all therespondents can be used to create a theory towards the currentsituation and future recommendations for handling cyber attacks.
Thenext step in the research is to conduct an actual field observationon the related firms. The researcher will have to review thepractices and protocols that are put into place towards protection ofdata and information.
Part2: Observational Guide
Observationas a way of collecting information works best after the researcherhad already obtained other information relating to their study. Inthis instance, the process of observing will be carried out after theinformation has already been gathered through the interview process(Donald, 2013).
Thecentral guiding research question is to observe the current practicesthat are carried out to enhance cyber security and to determine ifthere are amendments that can improve data protection.
Targetgroup and setting
Thetarget population is the people that work in the InformationTechnology sector. These individuals are likely to have encounteredcyber attacks and are well versed with the practices and protocolsthat can help curb the security breach. The activity of observationwill take place in the three firms where the 30 individuals that wereinterviewed work. The process of observing their conduct at work isto try and relate the information obtained from the interviews to theactual events that take place on a typical working day.
Relationshipto the target group and setting
Theinvestigator is a computer science student that attempts tounderstand cyber security and the measures that IT firms take toensure that data they store is secure. The researcher also hadrevealed their identity to most of the participants. Since bothgroups aim at achieving maximum protection from cyber attacks, theoutcomes of this activity will be free from bias (Paul, 2011).
Duringthe observation, information can be obtained from different sources.These sources include social behavior among the workers, talking withsome of the employees and reviews of the former records that showinstances of cyber attacks (Donald, 2013).
Observingthe social interaction between the workers will be able to show ifthey work as a team or if they are more independent. People that workas a team are more likely to handle issues on cyberattacks faster andwith minimal loss of valuable data. Those that are more independentmay have difficulty in curbing security breaches that may lead tobigger losses (Paul, 2011).
Talkingto the employees will help the investigator to understand thedifferent complex processes that may be going on. Through theconversation, the observer can quickly discern the system used toprotect and secure data (Donald, 2013).
Therecords on previous cyberattacks will present a clear picture on whatwas targeted, and how the firm was able to stop the attack. Therecords will also show the frequency of the attacks and the measuresthat were taken to prevent future ones. These archives will alsoenable the investigator in assessing whether the company was strongerin securing their data or whether they were still prone to anotherattack (Donald, 2013).
Listof anticipated puzzlements and jottings
Theanticipated puzzlements and jottings involve the interest andcuriosity that the investigator will have before visiting the ITfirms (Paul, 2011). The following list shows the order of thenotions.
Howthe security of the databank protects information from externalattack.
Whatsystems are used to ensure the data is protected from being corruptedby factors like fire and dust.The kind of software used to secure thedata from unauthorized access and how often they are updated.Themethods that are used to log in the employees from different levelsthat need some information from the database and how the systemmaintains a log of every user that has accessed some specificinformation. The training that the workers receive to make themunderstand data security and the role they have to play in protectingthe firm’s data.The protocols that exist in the situation they notethat their system has been breached.
Thefirst observation the researcher has to make is the process ofsecuring data within the firm and how unauthorized access is blocked.
Theother observation is to see the effectiveness of the systems thatprotect the information at the company. The best way will be toreview the records of cyberattacks.
Thefinal observation should be seeing visible signs on the walls of theoffices that outline the steps that every employee should follow ifthe firm’s network security is compromised.
Canyou tell me what happened during the last cyberattack? How was ithandled? Do you think it can happen again?How often are the securitysoftware updated in the firm? When was the last update? Does thefrequency of the updates strengthen or weaken the ability of thecompany’s system to protect its information?How often are the staffinformed about new security measures that they have to follow? Do youthink that they are effective? Do you think there is a better way ofimproving the cybersecurity?What is the process of training newemployees on data security? Is it detailed enough? Should thetraining take a longer duration?
Thetype of archival records that the researcher will seek are those thatshow the instances of cyber attacks, the measures put into place toprevent future attacks and the number of times that the entire systemof the firm had been updated. The investigator should also obtaininformation from the records that show the number of times theybackup their crucial data.
Structureand recording of field notes
Thebest way of recording information would be to use an observationgrid. The grid will show the investigator the different aspects inthe firm they have to observe (Donald, 2013). Each section caninclude a comment about what they will see. The use of twoinvestigators will be helpful in gathering more details. If allowedby the firm, the researcher can also take photographs as a way ofrecording the information they see (Donald, 2013).
Theproposed analysis method for the data collected is the triangulationmodel. The information obtained from the three firms can be assessedto find out the aspects that relate and those that are dissimilar(Paul, 2011). All these criteria will be taken into account whendetermining which ones make a specific company have a greater datasecurity and which factors reduce their ability to protect theirinformation. Once all these situations are considered, the shortnotes can then be converted to a narrative that includes thephotographic evidence. They can be presented using MS PowerPointapplication (Paul, 2011).
Themethodology employed in this activity involves qualitative researchthat only gathered information that could not be quantified intodigits or numerals (Donald, 2013).
Theguidelines outlined while carrying out the research on cyberattacksthrough interviews and observation are helpful for obtaininginformation. Considering that the type of research is qualitative,the sample size could not be very high since it would have consumed alot of time.
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Minnaar,A. (2014). Crackers`, cyberattacks and cybersecurity vulnerabilities:The difficulties in combatting the`new`cybercriminals. ActaCriminologica: Research and Application in Criminology and CriminalJustice, 2,127-144.
Paul,S. C. (2011). GlobalAir Quality: An Imperative for Long-Term Observational Strategies .National Academies Press .
Rowley,J. (2012). Conducting research interviews. ManagementResearch Review, 35(3/4),260-271.