Magazine article USA TODAY

Motivating Employees to Act More Securely

Magazine article USA TODAY

Motivating Employees to Act More Securely

Article excerpt

Computer users--at home and at work--often engage in behaviors that create security risks and privacy threats, despite having a variety of security options available. Clicking on unfamiliar links, choosing weak passwords, and sharing personal information can leave a user's computer or employer open to having information stolen.

For businesses, this especially is concerning because employees who engage in risky behaviors at home may carry those habits into the workplace, putting the company, fellow employees, and customers at risk. According to IBM, Armonk, N.Y., and the Ponemon Institute, Traverse City, Mich., the average cost of a data breach for companies is more than $3,500,000.

A study published in the Journal of Management Information Systems suggests information security managers and supervisors could have greater success in motivating employees to act more securely by avoiding cold, authoritative commands, and instead creating security messages that are relatable and provide options for how employees better can protect information and respond to threats.

According to study coauthor Rob Crossler, assistant professor of information systems at Washington State University, Pullman, employees may fail to realize they are putting company data at risk or have less of an interest in taking steps to ensure security because it is not their personal data. "If you want people inside an organization to truly change their security behaviors, you have to give them a reason to care. …

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