The influence of social education level on cybersecurity awareness and behaviour: a comparative study of university students and working graduates

Wilson Cheong Hin Hong, Chun Yang Chi, Jia Liu, Yun Feng Zhang, Vivian Ngan Lin Lei, Xiao Shu Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A multitude of studies have suggested potential factors that influence internet security awareness (ISA). Some, for example, used GDP and nationality to explain different ISA levels in other countries but yielded inconsistent results. This study proposed an extended knowledge-attitude-behaviour (KAB) model, which postulates an influence of the education level of society at large is a moderator to the relationship between knowledge and attitude. Using exposure to a full-time working environment as a proxy for the influence, it was hypothesized that significant differences would be found in the attitude and behaviour dimensions across groups with different conditions of exposure and that exposure to full-time work plays a moderating role in KAB. To test the hypotheses, a large-scale survey adopting the Human Aspects of Information Security Questionnaire (HAIS-Q) was conducted with three groups of participants, namely 852 Year 1–3 students, 325 final-year students (age = 18–25) and 475 full-time employees (age = 18–50) in two cities of China. MANOVA and subsequent PROCESS regression analyses found a significant negative moderating effect of work exposure, which confirmed the proposed model. However, the effect was more pervasive than expected and moderation was found in the interaction between work exposure and all three ISA dimensions. The social influence does not only reshape the cybersecurity attitude of the highly educated, but also knowledge and behaviour. Findings contribute theoretically, methodologically and practically, offering novel perspectives on ISA research and prompting new strategies to respond to human factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-470
Number of pages32
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • HAIS-Q
  • Internet security
  • KAB model
  • National Education Level
  • Work exposure

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