Using data clustering to reveal trainees’ behavior in cybersecurity education

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Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Education and Information Technologies
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Informatics

Web Article
Keywords visual analytics; clustering analysis; hands-on learning; visualization
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Description In cyber security education, hands-on training is a common type of exercise to help raise awareness and competence, and improve students' cybersecurity skills. To be able to measure the impact of the design of the particular courses, the designers need methods that can reveal hidden patterns in trainee behavior. However, the support of the designers in performing such analytic and evaluation tasks is ad-hoc and insufficient. With unsupervised machine learning methods, we designed a tool for clustering the trainee actions that can exhibit their strategies or help pinpoint flaws in the training design. By using a \emph{k-means++} algorithm, we explore clusters of trainees that unveil their specific behavior within the training sessions. The final visualization tool consists of views with scatter plots and radar charts. The former provides a two-dimensional correlation of selected trainee actions and displays their clusters. In contrast, the radar chart displays distinct clusters of trainees based on their more specific strategies or approaches when solving tasks. Through iterative training redesign, the tool can help designers identify improper training parameters and improve the quality of the courses accordingly. To evaluate the tool, we performed a qualitative evaluation of its outcomes with cybersecurity experts. The results confirm the usability of the selected methods in discovering significant trainee behavior. Our insights and recommendations can be beneficial for the design of tools for educators, even beyond cyber security.
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