The legend of The Scottish Thistle - the early version of a socio-technical defence system!

By Line Thorsen Sieg February 24, 2023

The legend of The Scottish Thistle - the early version of a socio-technical defence system!

Technology is getting both advanced and effective, but what good does it do if we don’t understand and use it properly? Humans have a long history of using tools to help us make our jobs easier or for keeping us safe. However, technology can only do so much on it’s own. It needs a human touch to fulfil its full potential.

Lets jump right into a famous legend of humans and technology working together to prevent an approaching attack:

King Haakon of Norway’s soldiers tried to ambush the sleeping Scottish clansmen. They even went barefooted to be extra stealthy in the cover of darkness. The highly involuntary contact between the thorns of a thistle and an unsuspecting foot made one of the Norse soldiers cry out in pain and gave the Scotsmen time to prepare for battle. Even just the thought of a bare foot and a robust thistle can make most people flinch. I mean, bare footed? In the Scottish Highland? What were they thinking? The Scottish victory was the outcome of reacting swiftly at the first threat awareness notification.

The Thistles didn’t stop the attacking army by themselves, but they did raise awareness for the Scots and allowed them to prepare themselves. The Scottish Thistle is a strong symbol in Scotland even today.

Another version of the legend says the Scotsmen were attacked by the Romans, who wore sandals to battle. The Romans ended up building Hadrian’s wall and declared everything north of said wall inhospitable and undesired. Possibly because of the Scottish Thistles. Picture it… sandals and thistles… Auch, no wonder they decided against it!

Looking at today’s technology - just like the physical battlefields mentioned above - the cyber-battlefield should include both a technical defence system and people who have awareness and are ready to respond. There is a need for cybersecurity systems that will not only keep out potential attackers, but they should also keep an proactive eye out for potential threats and notify the right people in time for them to prepare for an attack.

Plant your cyber-thistles to alert you about cyberattacks lurking about.