Information security incident under-reporting is unambiguously a business problem, as identified by a variety of sources, such as ENISA (2012), Symantec (2016), Newman (2018) and more. This research project identified the underlying issues that cause this problem and proposed a solution, in the form of an innovative artefact, which confronts a number of these issues.
This research project was conducted according to the requirements of the Design Science Research Methodology (DSRM) by Peffers et al (2007). The research question set at the beginning of this research project, probed the feasible formation of an incident reporting solution, which would increase the motivational level of users towards the reporting of incidents, by utilizing the positive features offered by existing solutions, on one hand, but also by providing added value to the users, on the other. The comprehensive literature review chapter set the stage, and identified the reasons for incident underreporting, while also evaluating the existing solutions and determining their advantages and disadvantages. The objectives of the proposed artefact were then set, and the artefact was designed and developed. The output of this development endeavour is “IRDA”, the first decentralized incident reporting application (DApp), built on “Quorum”, a permissioned blockchain implementation of Ethereum. Its effectiveness was demonstrated, when six organizations accepted to use the developed artefact and performed a series of pre-defined actions, in order to confirm the platform’s intended functionality. The platform was also evaluated using Venable et al’s (2012) evaluation framework for DSR projects.
This research project contributes to knowledge in various ways. It investigates blockchain and incident reporting, two domains which have not been extensively examined and the available literature is rather limited. Furthermore, it also identifies, compares, and evaluates the conventional, reporting platforms, available, up to date. In line with previous findings (e.g Humphrey, 2017), it also confirms the lack of standard taxonomies for information security incidents. This work also contributes by creating a functional, practical artefact in the blockchain domain, a domain where, according to Taylor et al (2019), most studies are either experimental proposals, or theoretical concepts, with limited practicality in solving real-world problems. Through the evaluation activity, and by conducting a series of non-parametric significance tests, it also suggests that IRDA can potentially increase the motivational level of users towards the reporting of incidents.
This thesis describes an original attempt in utilizing the newly emergent blockchain technology, and its inherent characteristics, for addressing those concerns which actively contribute to the business problem. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge, there is currently no other solution offering similar benefits to users/organizations for incident reporting purposes. Through the accomplishment of this project’s pre-set objectives, the developed artefact provides a positive answer to the research question. The artefact, featuring increased anonymity, availability, immutability and transparency levels, as well as an overall lower cost, has the potential to increase the motivational level of organizations towards the reporting of incidents, thus improving the currently
dismaying statistics of incident under-reporting.
The structure of this document follows the flow of activities described in the DSRM by Peffers et al (2007), while also borrowing some elements out of the nominal structure of an empirical research process, including the literature review chapter, the description of the selected research methodology, as well as the “discussion and conclusion” chapter.