Cultural and Social Dimensions of Cybersecurity

I have been working over the past years with Oxford’s Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre (GCSCC), which is associated with the Oxford Martin School and Department of Computer Science at Oxford, as well as several other departments, including the OII, and Saïd Business School. My own work has been focused on bringing the social sciences into the discussion, primarily by directing work on the cultural and social dimensions of cybersecurity.

Bill courtesy of Voices from Oxford (VOX)

I happened across a video we produced years ago in which I sought to address some of the questions in this area of cybersecurity. It is available here:

There are also a few articles I’ve written, often with others, on aspects of these social and cultural dimensions, including:

Dutton, W. H., Creese, S., Shillair, R., and Bada, M. (2019). Cyber Security Capacity: Does It Matter? Journal of Information Policy, 9: 280-306. doi:10.5325/jinfopoli.9.2019.0280

Creese, S., Shillair, R., Bada, M., Reisdorf, B.C., Roberts, T., and Dutton, W. H. (2019), ‘The Cybersecurity Capacity of Nations’, pp. 165-179 in Graham, M., and Dutton, W. H. (eds), Society and the Internet: How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing our Lives, 2ndEdition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. An earlier version of this book chapter was presented at the TPRC conference and available online at:

Dutton, W. H., and GCSCC (2018), ‘Collaborative Approaches to a Wicked Problem: Global Responses to Cybersecurity Capacity Building’, February. Notes on the 2018 Annual GCSCC Conference, Oxford University: Available online at:

Dutton, W. (2017), ‘Fostering a Cyber Security Mindset’, Internet Policy Review, 6(1): DOI: 10.14763/2017.1.443 Available at: An abridged version was reprinted in Encore, a publication of The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG), forthcoming in 2018.

Bauer, J., and Dutton, W. H. (2015), “The New Cybersecurity Agenda: Economic and Social Challenges to a Secure Internet’, Joint Working Paper for the Global Cyber Security Centre at the University of Oxford, and the Quello Center, Michigan State University. Available online at:

Dutta, S., Dutton, W. H. and Law, G. (2011), The New InternetWorld: A Global Perspective on Freedom of Expression, Privacy, Trust and Security Online: The Global Information Technology Report 2010-2011. New York: World Economic Forum, April. Available at SSRN:

Early International Impact of the Oxford Cybersecurity Capacity Center

The Global Cybersecurity Capacity Center at the Oxford Martin School is developing a model and the tools for nations to self-assess their levels of maturity in addressing cybersecurity. I am supporting the Principal Investigator, Professor Sadie Creese, and other co-principal investigators as an Oxford Martin Fellow.

Prof. Sadie Creese
Prof. Sadie Creese

Input from the project team and its international, expert advisory groups, has led to the refinement of a model that identifies key dimensions of cybersecurity, including cultural and other social as well as strategic, legal and technical aspects of a security context. My major focus has been on developing an instrument that will enable teams in particular nations to self-assess their maturity levels in ways that are methodologically sound and replicable.

As the model and associated instruments are being developed, the research team has been working with a variety of nations to help them assess their cybersecurity capacity. In each case, the Oxford project team has been collaborating with key organizations that have helped advise the project and support implementation of the model in a range of international settings.

To date, the team has visited a remarkable number of countries, which have worked with us to implement and help refine our model and indicators of capacity. The team has worked with the Organisation of American States (OAS), supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to visit and review Jamaica and Colombia. The World Bank worked with us to review Armenia, Kosovo, Bhutan and Montenegro. The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) supported our review of Uganda and Fiji. The UK Cabinet Office collaborated with us on a review of the United Kingdom. Indonesia’s Telkom University and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies helped with our review of Indonesia. The Government of the Netherlands, under the auspices of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), worked with us on our review of Senegal. And the British Embassy in Tashkent is supporting our forthcoming review of Uzbekistan. These collaborations will provide valuable lessons for developing the tools and indicators for self-assessment in nations round the world.

In such ways, the Oxford Cybersecurity Capacity Center is having an incredible international impact even during these early stages of developing and refining the frameworks and tools for nations and other organizations to use in self-assessing and building their cybersecurity capacities.

More information about the project is available on the project’s online portal at: