‘Ought’ should not assume ‘Can’? Basic Capabilities in Cybersecurity to Ground Sen’s Capability Approach

Partha Das Chowdhury, Karen Renaud

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


We inhabit a ‘digital first’ society, which is only viable if everyone, regardless of ability and capacity, is able to benefit from online offerings in a safe and secure way. However, disabled individuals, people living under oppressive regimes, elderly citizens and individuals fleeing conflict can be excluded, because they might not have the opportunity to implement cybersecurity hygiene measures. To reduce this potential exclusion, it is crucial to make all users’ situated realities focal variables in policy debates and provisioning efforts. This requires a validated set of basic minimum capabilities which reflect individuals’ diverse personal and social realities. In this paper, we report on a scoping literature review intended to reveal the state of play with respect to capabilities-related research in the cyber domain. We motivate our initial focus on the over 65s for this investigation. We used advice from online government cybersecurity advisories to arrive at a set of five recommended cybersecurity hygiene tasks. These fed into a survey with sixty senior citizens to elicit the barriers they could envisage someone of their age encountering, in acting upon cybersecurity hygiene advice. The final deliverable is a candidate list of basic capabilities (cybersecurity) for seniors. This enables us to start measuring security and privacy poverty, an essential step in recognising and mitigating exclusion, as well as informing threat modelling efforts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Security Paradigms Workshop, 2023
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
ISBN (Print)9798400716201
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2023


Dive into the research topics of '‘Ought’ should not assume ‘Can’? Basic Capabilities in Cybersecurity to Ground Sen’s Capability Approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this