CEC Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems (DISS)

Department

College of Engineering and Computing

Advisor

Souren Paul

Committee Member

Amon B. Seagull

Committee Member

Subhasish Dasgupta

Abstract

Attacks on computer systems continue to be a problem. The majority of the attacks target home computer users. To help mitigate the attacks some companies provide security awareness training to their employees. However, not all people work for a company that provides security awareness training and typically, home computer users do not have the incentive to take security awareness training on their own. Research in security awareness and security behavior has produced conflicting results. Therefore, it is not clear, how security aware home computer users are or to what extent security awareness affects the security behavior of home computer users. The goal of this study was to determine if there is a relationship between security awareness and users practicing good security behavior.

This study adapted its research model from the health belief model (HBM), which accesses a patient’s decision to perform health related activities. The research model included the HBM constructs of perceived severity, perceived susceptibility, perceived threat, perceived benefits, perceived barriers, cues to action, and self-efficacy. The research model also contained the security awareness (SA) and concern for information privacy (CFIP) constructs. The model used SA to ascertain the effect of security awareness on a person’s self-efficacy in information security (SEIS), perceived threat, CFIP, and security behavior. The research model included CFIP to ascertain its effect on security behavior.

The developed survey measured the participants' security awareness, concern for information privacy, self-efficacy, expectations of security actions, perceived security threats, cues to action, and security behavior. SurveyMonkey administered the survey. SurveyMonkey randomly selected 267 participants from its 30 million-member base.

The findings of this study indicate home computer users are security aware. SA does not have a direct effect on a user’s security behavior, perceived threat, or CFIP. However, it does have influence on SEIS. SEIS has a weak effect on expectations. CFIP has an effect on a user’s security behavior after removing perceived threat from the research model. Perceived susceptibility has a direct effect on a user’s security behavior, but perceived severity or perceived threat does not.

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