Cyberspace holds promise but also risk as an evolving channel for communication. Security activities help to balance the positive and negative, ensuring potential benefit and managing potential harm. In this article, Kremer explores how different approaches to security, termed ‘security mindsets’, influence how threats are perceived, how security is conceived, and how these ideas can lead to conflicting responses.
A security mindset informs not only how each person thinks and speaks about security, but also shapes how we solve problems. In this way, the security mindset influences what means and methods of protection are seen as appropriate and necessary and gradually shapes institutions and structures in society; such as the legal system. Understanding these positions as contestable and contextual mindsets, rather than as unquestionable truths, can provide a foundation for critique and debate.
Jens Kramer explores two security mindsets in depth: the military security mindset and the liberal security mindset. The military security mindset is defined by concern with strategic considerations of national security. The liberal security mindset is interested in balancing security with individual rights. Some distinguishing.
"Looking at the dangers of cyberspace with a military mindset of security means to suspect a potential existential threat to society or country in every malicious act, which is then regarded as an act of warfare coming from an external enemy. Looking at cyberspace with a liberal security mindset allows differentiating between the threats. It allows differentiating cybercrime from cyberwar, enabling different responses to threats. "
A liberal security mindset will privilege privacy, but there is a lack of diverse tools for countering threats. As such, even intervention within the rule of law may expand legal or police control.
The striking differences between the mindsets make clear why some debates about security remain unresolved; on some points, the perspectives cannot be reconciled. However, these perspectives can be understood as mindsets, rather than operational imperatives. Different security mindsets may actually lead to a similar outcomes, such as the increasing overlap between national security and internally-focused criminal law.
Understanding conflicting approaches as an outcome of differing mindsets provides a tool for finding complementary security efforts.