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Operational Cyberpsychology: Adapting a Special Operations Model for Cyber Operations
July 2021 No Comments
Author(s): Spitaletta, J. (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)
Invited Perspective Preview
This paper conceptualizes operational cyberpsychology as a field that supports missions intended to project power in and through cyberspace (Joint Staff, 2018) by leveraging and applying expertise in mental processes and behavior in the context of interaction amongst humans and machines (Norman, 2017). Operational psychologists can improve the effectiveness of cyber operations by contributing to (1) supporting online psychological operations (PSYOP), (2) facilitating and supporting online intelligence operations, (3) assessment and selection of personnel, (4) operationally focused mental health support, and (5) hostage negotiations (Staal & Stephenson, 2013). The US government’s cyberpsychology initiative applies operational psychology to cyber operations (LaFon & Whalen, 2017) and should serve as the foundation for a broader operational cyberpsychology capability. Operational cyberpsychology can be a force multiplier for an increasingly critical operational capability in support of US national security, but its maturation will require additional resourcing to ensure that the research and development, as well as the operational integration and evaluation, are conducted with not only the appropriate understanding of the problem but also the perspective of those actively engaged in addressing it.