CCE Faculty Articles

Post-Secondary Education Network Security: Results of Addressing the End User Challenge

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Publication Title

Proceedings INTED 2014 Conference

Event Date/Location

Valencia, Spain / 2014



Publication Date



Today, irrespective of what career field a college graduate enters, personal computer literacy is a given requirement. Personal computer security literacy is rapidly becoming as important as office application software literacy for today’s typical employee. Coping with technology security issues is not something that can be simply accomplished through personal experiences. Currently, research of young adults and students indicates that 7 out of 10 frequently ignore IT policies, and 3 of 5 believe they are not responsible for protecting information and devices. In the past, fallout from poor IT habits was buffered by the IT department's iron control over the infrastructure. There were no smartphones, or applications such as Facebook, Twitter or Google to become a security hole as there are today. Schools have a vested interest in “biting the bullet” by assigning some resources to the issue and ensuring that their students receive a minimum of personal computer security training just as they should ensure their graduates are computer literate in the use of business application software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and database access. This is because: a) the students are effectively part of the institutions networks as end-users with needs that must be addressed, b) preparing students for life after college is an implied and accepted part of the role of the educational institution, and c) students are the schools’ “product” and represent the school to everyone they interact with after graduation. Just as business organizations are increasingly requiring their members to undergo annual or semi-annual PC-based ethical and security awareness training, educational institutions may wish to consider emulating this for their staff, faculty and students on the topic of personal computer end user security best practices. The MIS program at the University of Mount Olive is addressing the challenge of technology/business computer security literacy by implementing a new e-learning solution. A customized, self-paced, web-based end user digital security awareness tutorial was created. This learning activity reinforces student retention of the material presented by providing questions at the end of each learning module to reinforce learning. As students become proficient at using security best practices, their proficiency, confidence, and student engagement in the class material increases. Since more classes require the use of computing technology in completing assignments, students enhance their progress throughout their undergraduate program and increasing the probability of program completion. The course instructor is able to shift their time and energy from “putting out fires” to focusing on higher-level feedback on assignments and administrative functions. Since more classes require the use of digital technology, both hardware and software, in completing assignments, students take these digital best practices for safety and security to other situations and courses, enhancing their progress throughout their undergraduate program and increasing the probability of program completion. A survey was developed to study and quantify the student’s perception of the usefulness of an online PC security end-user tutorial. Results of this study suggest that regular exposure to a PC security tutorial can positively impact student success and program completion - a key aspect of program quality. As programs come under increasing scrutiny in terms of measuring learning outcomes, completion rates, and student success, faculty may wish to consider the advantages of regular exposure to PC security tutorials for their students.

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