CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

William L Hafner

Committee Member

Maxine S Cohen

Committee Member

Marlyn K. Littman

Abstract

Security threats caused by the inappropriate actions of the user continue to be a significant security problem within any organization. The purpose of this study was to continue the efforts of Katz by assessing the security behavior and practices of working professionals. Katz conducted a study that assessed whether the faculty and staff at Armstrong Atlantic State University had been performing the simple everyday practices and behavior necessary to avert insider threats to information security. Critical in understanding human behavior is in knowing how behavior varies across different groups or demographics. Because a user's behavior can be influenced by demographic groups, this study adapted Katz's study by examining the influence on the security behavior of four demographic groups identified by gender, age, education, and occupation. Like Katz, this study used a 5-point Likert scale quantitative self-administered, closed-ended questionnaire to assess the participants' security practices and behaviors. The questionnaire was developed in two sections: Section 1 used a binary scale to gather the participants' demographics data while Section 2 used a 5-point Likert scale to measure the participants' security behaviors. The sample population was derived from working professionals at the General Dynamic and Program Manager Advanced Amphibious Assault (GD & PM AAA) Facility in Woodbridge, Virginia. The total population at PM AAA Office was 288, of which 87 or 30% completed the survey. Results of the demographic survey indicate that (a) women were more security aware than their male counterparts, (b) younger participants were more security aware than their older counterparts, (c) participants who did not attend college were more security aware than their college-educated counterparts, and (d) participants in nontechnical positions were more security aware than their counterparts in technical positions. The results indicate that a relation exists between the participants' security behaviors and their levels of security awareness.

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