The Research


Information Security Awareness Programmes

Numerous theoretical instructional models have been proposed in order to understand and deliver information security awareness and education programmes. Kruger & Kearney (2006) created a framework to assess the levels of end user security awareness, measuring knowledge, attitude and behaviour, in order to identify programme content. Shaw, Chen, Harris & Huang (2009) investigated the effects of information richness, the information carrying capacity of media such as text, audio, streaming video, infographics and virtual reality, on security awareness levels, thus guiding the development of programme content. A different approach to material creation was proposed by Taylor (2013) who recommended focusing on a threat and the desired counter measure, presenting end users with real problems and solutions, though this approach is difficult to keep current in an ever-changing threat landscape.

Information Security Awareness for Home Users

While organisations are investing in technology and training to protect their systems and staff, home users are being left behind, becoming easier targets for criminals to exploit (Talib et al., 2010). Home users are often restricted by their financial resources, their motivation and their understanding of the current threat landscape (Horacio et al., 2010; Rao & Pati, 2012). Governments and other organisations have published advice, for home users, about staying safe online but this advice is typically generic advice and is more about awareness building rather than knowledge and skill building (Aldawood & Skinner, 2019; Anderson & Agarwal, 2010; Kaspersky & Furnell, 2014). Whilst the literature has shown there is a requirement for both knowledge and skill in order to create the confidence for self-efficacy (Chiu et al., 2006; Hu, 2010), this has been somewhat ignored, despite having been acknowledge as a requirement, by the UK Government (Coventry et al., 2014).

The Elderly

Criminals have historically targeted the elderly and, without the security measures found in a work environment, they are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime (E&T editorial staff, 2017). Outside of the workplace and without access to security training programs, most lose touch with current best practice and awareness of the latest threats and scams (Blackwood-Brown et al., 2019). More and more services are available online only so the elderly are being forced to adopt technology and the Internet in order to participate in today’s world (Britain thinks, 2015; Mouland, 2018).

Figures from The Crime Survey for England and Wales 2017-18, published by the Office for National Statistics Office in April 2019, showed 1 in 12 respondents aged 65 and older had been a victim of some type of fraud (Office for National Statistics, 2019). That figure, when adjusted to the population of England and Wales, suggests over 800,000 elderly people were victims of fraud during 2017. Action Fraud, recorded over 12,000 cases of online fraud which targeted people over 60, between April and September 2019 (Robinson, 2018).

Threat Landscape for Home Users

Home users are exposed to the same risks as businesses and therefore they need to consider numerous attack vectors (Thompson et al., 2017). This level of threat is almost impossible to protect against with limited technical resources, knowledge and skill (Kritzinger & von Solms, 2013; Urbanska et al., 2013).

Protecting the Home User

A review of information sites giving advice on staying safe online, was conducted which included government sites (National Cyber Security Centre, 2018), software vendor sites (10 Tips To Stay Safe Online | McAfee Blogs, n.d.; Keep your computer secure at home - Windows Help, n.d.; David Bowen, 2013) and educational sites (Secure Computing | Information Systems & Technology, n.d.; University of California, n.d.; University of Oxford, n.d.). From the review a list of the most common tasks to help secure home users and their systems was compiled and is shown below. This project will focus on developing educational materials for a number of these secure practices.

  • Human Behaviour
  • Use anti-virus software
  • Install software updates and patches
  • Treat emails with caution
  • Use strong passwords
  • Two Factor Authentication
  • Use a VPN
  • Do regular backups
  • Be cautious when browsing the Internet
  • Be suspicious of calls

Current Online Resources

Research suggests that existing Information Security Awareness portals lack efficacy due to poorly written and poorly presented content, often presenting a definition and benefits but failing to include the procedures required to achieve the desired outcome, therefore, precluding novice users from learning how to better protect themselves (Cook et al., 2011). This is exacerbated further for elderly novice users, who are often trying to retro fit technology into their lives (Cook et al., 2011). There is also a lack of trust in the information presented, as often, sites incorporate advertising and marketing information on the same page creating a perceived bias in the content (Kritzinger & von Solms, 2013).

A number of studies have analysed Information Security Awareness portals showing that in order to meet user needs they should be available across all devices and platforms to maximise accessibility (Cook et al., 2011), written in simple non-technical language , be easy to use and should contain step-by-step tutorials (Chang et al., 2019). Furthermore, when considering the elderly, additional accessibility factors need to be considered which are related to age and age-related disabilities (Baker et al., 2002). Font size, font colour, background colour, contrast, language and context can significantly disadvantage the elderly in relation to accessing site content (Liang & Xue, 2010). Additionally, the educational resources must consciously include users with limited computing experience and be generationally appropriate so the information can be readily contextualised, creating the knowledge necessary to better protect themselves (Baker et al., 2002; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. General Services Administration, 2006). When publishing the educational resources online, the material should be formatted into a series of pages, creating a logical linear information path through the material (Nielsen, 2015). Where a topic cannot be logically spilt into smaller pieces a single page, with scrolling, should be used (Attwell & Hughes, 2010). End user self-efficacy and good security practices will be themes that run throughout all the developed material (Broad, 2013).

Summary

The objective of this project is the creation of an online educational resource for the elderly residents of the Isle of Man where they can obtain advice, guidance and training on cybersecurity. Furthermore, the literature has shown that any improvements in the security awareness of the elderly could have a significant impact on reducing their risk from cybercrime.

References

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