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Investigating the correlation between intention and action in the context of social engineering in two different national cultures
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Industrial Information and Control Systems.
University of Skövde.
KTH, School of Electrical Engineering (EES), Industrial Information and Control Systems.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3922-9606
2015 (English)In: 2015 48th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, IEEE Computer Society, 2015, 3508-3517 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper, we shed a light on the intention-action relationship in the context of external behavioral information security threats. Specifically, external threats caused by employees' social engineering security actions were examined. This was done by examining the correlation between employees' reported intention to resist social engineering and their self-reported actions of hypothetical scenarios as well as observed action in a phishing experiment. Empirical studies including 1787 employees pertaining to six different organizations located in Sweden and USA laid the foundation for the statistical analysis. The results suggest that employees' intention to resist social engineering has a significant positive correlation of low to medium strength with both self-reported action and observed action. Furthermore, a significant positive correlation between social engineering actions captured through written scenarios and a phishing experiment was identified. Due to data being collected from employees from two different national cultures, an exploration of potential moderating effect based on national culture was also performed. Based on this analysis we identified that the examined correlations differ between Swedish, and US employees. The findings have methodological contribution to survey studies in the information security field, showing that intention and self-reported behavior using written scenarios can be used as proxies of observed behavior under certain cultural contexts rather than others. Hence, the results support managers operating in a global environment when assessing external behavioral information security threats in their organization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IEEE Computer Society, 2015. 3508-3517 p.
National Category
Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-149376DOI: 10.1109/HICSS.2015.422ISI: 000366264103074ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84944184110OAI: diva2:739387
The Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 48), January 5-8, 2015, Hawaii, USA.

QC 20150211

Available from: 2014-08-21 Created: 2014-08-21 Last updated: 2016-05-03Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Shaping information security behaviors related to social engineering attacks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Shaping information security behaviors related to social engineering attacks
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Today, few companies would manage to continuously stay competitive without the proper utilization of information technology (IT). This has increased companies’ dependency of IT and created new threats that need to be addressed to mitigate risks to daily business operations. A large extent of these IT-related threats includes hackers attempting to gain unauthorized access to internal computer networks by exploiting vulnerabilities in the behaviors of employees. A common way to exploit human vulnerabilities is to deceive and manipulate employees through the use of social engineering. Although researchers have attempted to understand social engineering, there is a lack of empirical research capturing multilevel factors explaining what drives employees’ existing behaviors and how these behaviors can be improved. This is addressed in this thesis.

The contribution of this thesis includes (i) an instrument to measure security behaviors and its multilevel determinants, (ii) identification of multilevel variables that significantly influence employees’ intent for behavior change, (iii) identification of what behavioral governance factors that lay the foundation for behavior change, (iv) identification that national culture has a significant effect on how organizations cope with behavioral information security threats, and (v) a strategy to ensure adequate information security behaviors throughout an organization.

This thesis is a composite thesis of eight papers. Paper 1 describes the instrument measuring multilevel determinants. Paper 2 and 3 describes how security knowledge is established in organizations, and the effect on employee information security awareness. In Paper 4 the root cause of employees’ intention to change their behaviors and resist social engineering is described. Paper 5 and 8 describes how the instrument to measure social engineering security behaviors was developed and validated through scenario-based surveys and phishing experiments. Paper 6 and 7 describes experiments performed to understand reason to why employees fall for social engineering. Finally, paper 2, 5 and 6 examines the moderating effect of national culture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2016. xv, 156 p.
TRITA-EE, ISSN 1653-5146 ; 2016:061
Information security, Behavioral information security, Social engineering, Phishing, Measuring information security behaviors, Information security governance, Experiments, National culture, Mixed method research design, Quantitative methods
National Category
Other Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering
Research subject
Industrial Information and Control Systems
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-186113 (URN)978-91-7595-969-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-05-27, L1, Drottning Kristinas väg 30, KTH Campus, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)

QC 20160503

Available from: 2016-05-03 Created: 2016-05-02 Last updated: 2016-05-20Bibliographically approved

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