The effects of knowledge mechanisms on employees’ information security threat construal

Jan 10th, 2023 | By | Category: RSS Feed


Organisations implement a variety of knowledge mechanisms such as information security education, training and awareness (SETA) programs and information security policies, to influence employees’ secure behaviour. Despite increased efforts to provide information systems (IS) security knowledge to employees, data breaches and other security incidents resulting from insider behaviour continue. Recent IS security research, primarily grounded on assumptions of employees’ rational assessment of numerous factors, has yielded inconsistent results. Challenging this paradigm, we model secure behaviour on security knowledge mechanisms, which focuses on the multidimensional nature of security knowledge breadth, depth and finesse to represent the full array of managerial levers. We further draw on construal level theory to conceptualise users’ perceptual judgements of security messages. Two studies support our model, with the second building on the first. Study 1, an experiment with 312 participants, focused on validating the treatments. Study 2, a survey with 219 participants, validated the entire model. Results showed that our model has significantly more explanatory and predictive power than the orthodox paradigm. Our results have practical implications for optimising the organisation of knowledge mechanisms by emphasising the personal relevance of threats and defining the factors that lead to secure behaviour. We also contribute to the discourse on information security research and provide a template for integrating theories, thus opening new avenues for future research.


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