Michigan State University professor Rick Walsh is studying the reasoning process behind the decisions people make that lead to computer security breaches.
During a presentation at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Walsh discussed how social interactions affect the processes behind personal cybersecurity decision-making.
His research shows that how people visualize and conceptualize hackers and other cybercriminals affects their cybersecurity decision-making. People form impressions about the risk of sharing passwords and other behaviors based on the influence of the media, interpersonal interactions, and storytelling, and the assessments are powerful, according to Walsh. He says the teenager on a computer in their parents' basement and the professional criminal in a foreign country are two of the most common and easily recognizable images that people have of hackers.
People who visualize the professional do not always make the best decisions because they are likely to believe the hacker is focusing on lucrative targets, Walsh suggests. His work could help to influence effectiveness in the development of the science of cybersecurity.
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