A viable systems approach towards cyber situational awareness

Richard Craig, Theo Tryfonas, John May

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

3 Citations (Scopus)


There is a gap in the ability to gain sufficient Situational Awareness (SA) of the cyber domain at the strategic level, leading nations and organisations to rapidly develop this capability. Through various cyber strategies, nations are seeking to encourage multi-organisation collaboration and information infrastructures between government, military, critical national infrastructure and engaging with the public and private sectors to secure cyberspace and its dependencies. This paper discusses the benefits of a systems approach to the complex sociotechnical problem of collaboration towards a cyber defence capability, and how challenges can be managed through the perspective of a viable system. The Viable Systems Model (VSM) provides a perspective for understanding system behaviour and anticipating, planning, and implementing large scale organisational change. The output from focus group sessions with stakeholders across national infrastructure, are placed in context to the VSM to provide a framework to better understand the challenges from the cyber domain, points of intervention, and requirements for a viable collaborative cyber defence system. Without a holistic, efficient information infrastructure supporting a cyber SA capability, the ability for a whole system response to take a proactive posture to threats or put in place effective mitigation and resilience measures is severely reduced, leading to even greater vulnerability. Relevance to industry This paper presents the outputs from a number of focus groups with stakeholders drawn from national infrastructure and business sectors, that are place within the context of the VSM. The VSM is presented as a framework to identify requirements and intervention points for future research towards a collaborative information system architecture.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man and Cybernetics
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event2014 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, SMC 2014 - San Diego, United States
Duration: 5 Oct 20148 Oct 2014


Conference2014 IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, SMC 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


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