University of Twente Student Theses


Trust Trumps Security : why trust is key to well-being in cyberspace and security a means to its achievement

Sijpesteijn, B. (2015) Trust Trumps Security : why trust is key to well-being in cyberspace and security a means to its achievement.

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Abstract:Cyberspace holds the promise of increasing the well-being of billions, improving their lives through such affordances as access to information, contact with like-minded people, and providing commercial opportunities. This thesis contents that trust is key to cyberspace's success and of paramount importance to well-being in cyberspace. Trust in cyberspace is not trivially present though. Our increasing dependence on cyberspace and the raising stakes in cyber-conflicts have governments ramp up their cyber-capabilities. If not thought out well, such efforts threaten to be counter-productive and undermine the principles that promote well-being in cyberspace. This thesis forms an inquiry into trust in cyberspace. A characterization of cyberspace is developed, extending technical network design principles to include the virtual and cognitive aspects of cyberspace, whilst acknowledging its evolutionary nature. Cyberspace is characterized as a grand decentralized network, conjoining myriads of circuits that represent different meanings that cyberspace has for different users at different times; circuits are made up of nodes of a content, logical or physical nature. Next is an analysis of the conception of trust as security, which turns out to be problematic with regard to well-being in cyberspace. Although security is an important condition for many affordances, it is not a suitable alternative to the fundamental role of trust to well-being in cyberspace. Security interests of different actors clash, while well-being in cyberspace requires an agnostic core. A key element of trust is the leap of faith that provides room for individual interpretation and decision making about the trustworthiness of, in casu, the agnostic core of cyberspace. Combining these insights, a novel conception of trust in cyberspace is presented. Trust in cyberspace is conceived as a succession of leaps of faith from node to node, each time assessing the trustworthiness of the next node. If all nodes in a circuit are deemed trustworthy, trust in that particular meaning at that instance of cyberspace exists. Security proper enhances the trustworthiness of nodes and hence is a means to achieving trust and thus well-being in cyberspace. Consequently, what those who are committed to well-being in cyberspace should do, is finding ways to promote the trustworthiness, as perceived by as many people as possible, of the nodes that they can influence. If adopted by governments, this would align the responsibilities they feel with the promises of cyberspace.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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