COGSEC.org, or the Cognitive Security and Education Forum, was founded as a response to a call to action in a 2017 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Cybersecurity by Rand Waltzman. The testimony, titled “The Weaponization of Information”, detailed complex, psycho-social threats in the information environment, which are exacerbated by state actors and social media. The testimony concluded by recommending a commitment to national cognitive security, it asked that a nongovernmental "center for cognitive security" be formed to "bring together experts working in areas such as cognitive science, computer science, engineering, social science, security, marketing, political campaigning, public policy, and psychology to develop a theoretical as well as an applied engineering methodology for managing the full spectrum of information environment security issues.”
In the perceived absence of action on the recommendation, COGSEC was formed to answer this call and its members have since endeavored to work on projects and build relationships with members of organizations which were well positioned to contribute to solutions and our understanding of the problems outlined in Waltzman’s testimony and elsewhere. This work and relationship building was done with the belief that understanding the problems underneath the threats in the information environment would be a necessary precursor to solutions and that pedagogy and sensemaking would be the domains which would be most likely to yield the insights necessary to both understand these threats and design reliable solutions.
Each year, COGSEC sets out to achieve a particular research initiative. In 2019 it was to better understand the relationship between government, military, intelligence, consumer, and industry interests and their stated needs within relevant domains in order to serve as a reliable bridge between them in future research projects. In 2020, the COGSEC research initiative was to develop a better understanding of emergent remote organizations, how and why they form, perform, and disintegrate, as well as how individuals make sense of their environment socially, the resulting volume can be found here.
COGSEC is actively seeking collaborators of all levels of experience for our interdisciplinary 2021 research initiative, which is on Narrative Information Management, the brief is available here.