Dr. Nina Klimburg-Witjes

University Assistant
(post doc)
Making Europe through and for its research infrastructures

Tel: +43-1-4277-49625
eMail: nina.witjes@univie.ac.at
Website: klimburg-witjes.com


Nina Klimburg-Witjes is a university assistant (post-doc) at the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Vienna University. She has studied Development Studies, Literature, History and Euroculture at the Universities of Vienna, Erfurt and Göttingen (2005-2011) with a specialization on knowledge and global politics. In 2017, she defended her doctoral dissertation on the “Co-production of Science, Technology and Global Politics” at the Munich Center for Technology (MCTS) at Technical University Munich in 2017.

From 2016-2018, Nina has been a post-doc researcher at the Munich Center for Technology (MCTS), research group “Innovation, Society and Public Policy” and a co-leader of the “Engineering Responsibility” Lab's research group “Science, Technology and Security”. In her work at the intersection of STS and Critical Security Studies, she explores the role of technological innovation and knowledge practices in securitization processes. Tracing the entanglements between industries, political institutions, and users, Nina is interested in how visions about sociotechnical vulnerabilities are co-produced with security devices and policy, and how novel security technologies interact with issues of privacy and democracy.

During her time as researcher at the Austrian Institute for International Affairs (oiip) Nina worked together with stakeholders from ministries and funding agencies on internationalization strategies for science, technology and innovation. As head of the research unit “Science, Technology and Foreign Policy”, Nina conducted several research projects on science diplomacy, international collaboration and the role of satellite technologies in international security politics from a combined perspective of STS and International Relations.

Nina has also been a researcher with the Austrian Foundation for International Development (2010-2012), and a research fellow (2012) in the research project "Universality and Potential of Acceptance of Social Science Knowledge: On the Circulation of Knowledge between Europe and the Global South”, at the Department of Sociology, Albert-Ludwig University Freiburg, (funded by the BMBF). She has also been a visiting fellow at the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI) in 2018 and with the Research Policy Group at Lund University, Sweden in 2014.

Current Research Interests

  • The global politics of science and technology
  • Sociotechnical imaginaries of space programs and regional security in Asia
  • Satellite technologies and visual politics
  • The co-production of European research infrastructures and European integration processes
  • Sensors, sensing and security infrastructures 
  • STS and critical security studies 



Selected Publications

Hacking Humans?

Nina Klimburg-Witjes, Alexander Wentland

Today, social engineering techniques are the most common way of committing cybercrimes through the intrusion and infection of computer systems. Cyber security experts use the term “social engineering” to highlight the “human factor" in digitized systems, as social engineering attacks aim at manipulating people to reveal sensitive information. In this paper, we explore how discursive framings of individual versus collective security by cyber security experts redefine roles and responsibilities at the digitalized workplace. We will first show how the rhetorical figure of the deficient user is constructed vis-à-vis notions of (in)security in social engineering discourses. Second, we will investigate the normative tensions that these practices create. To do so, we link work in STS on the politics of deficit construction to recent work in critical security studies (CSS) on securitization and resilience. Empirically, our analysis builds on a multi-sited conference ethnography during three cyber security conferences as well as an extensive document analysis. Our findings suggest a redistribution of institutional responsibility to the individual user through three distinct social engineering storylines – “the oblivious employee”, “speaking code and social”, “fixing human flaws”. Finally, we propose to open up the discourse on social engineering and its inscribed politics of deficit construction and securitization and advocate for companies and policy makers to establish and foster a culture of cyber in/security and corporate responsibility

Department of Science and Technology Studies
External organisation(s)
Technische Universität München
Science, Technology & Human Values
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
509017 Social studies of science, 509024 Security research, 509025 Technology studies
Portal url