Contact Info

Rick Wash
404 Wilson Rd #402
402 Communication Arts and Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
wash@msu.edu

Cell: (734) 730-1188
Office: (517) 355-2381

Identifying Patterns in Informal Sources of Security Information

by: Emilee Rader and Rick Wash

Abstract

Computer users have access to computer security information from many different sources, but few people receive explicit computer security training. Despite this lack of formal education, users regularly make many important security decisions, such as “Should I click on this potentially shady link?” or “Should I enter my password into this form?” For these decisions, much knowledge comes from incidental and informal learning. To better understand differences in the security-related information available to users for such learning, we compared three informal sources of computer security information: news articles, web pages containing computer security advice, and stories about the experiences of friends and family. Using an LDA topic model, we found that security information from peers usually focuses on who conducts attacks, information containing expertise focuses instead on how attacks are conducted, and information from the news focuses on the consequences of attacks. These differences may prevent users from understanding the persistence and frequency of seemingly mundane threats (viruses, phishing), or from associating protective measures with the generalized threats the users are concerned about (hackers). Our findings highlight the potential for sources of informal security education to create patterns in user knowledge that affect their ability to make good security decisions.

Reference

Emilee Rader and Rick Wash. “Identifying Patterns in Informal Sources of Security InformationJournal of Cyber Security. Vol. 1 2015.

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