Date of Award

3-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Management

Department

Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Michael E. Miller, PhD

Abstract

The Air Force currently suffers from excessively high attrition rates in the cyberspace career. The field is currently aiming to develop an entrance examination for the career, striving to improve personnel selection and decrease these high attrition rates. The attribute of suspicion is a key focus of the preliminary examination development, theorizing that it is a potential indicator present among competent cyber operators. This research makes use of the Suspicion Propensity Index (SPI), a reliable measure of one’s tendency to be suspicious, along with the highly cited Mayer’s trust questionnaire in order to compare the attributes that appear in successful cyberspace individuals compared to those with no cyber experience. These measures are analyzed in comparison to a cyber mission performance questionnaire, adapted to assess each participant’s cyberspace capabilities. The three aforementioned questionnaires were distributed to two distinct populations: a group of experienced cyber operators averaging 22.8 years in the career field and a group of Airmen from various career fields with no prior cyber experience. The research yields evidence that suspicion levels are significantly correlated to cyber mission performance scores among both the cyber and non-cyber populations, with cyber operators demonstrating higher overall levels of suspicion than those of non-cyber operators. Years of experience displays a more prominent effect on the suspicion levels of cyber personnel, with the non-cyber sample population displaying more constant levels of suspicion despite time in the Air Force. This evidence suggests that cyber operators gain suspicion over time in comparison to their non-cyber counterparts. The trust questionnaire scores were significantly correlated to SPI scores. However, results of the trust questionnaire do not appear to provide a prediction of cyber mission performance.

AFIT Designator

AFIT-ENV-MS-20-M-244

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