Sign In

Communications of the ACM


Even If Users Do Not Read Security Directives, Their Behavior Is Not So Catastrophic

image of a lock over hands on a keyboard

Credit: Shutterstock

More than two decades ago, Adams and Sasse in their highly cited seminal work1 challenged the belief widely held—among IT security professionals—that users are the enemy within an organization—the one who does not care about security and subsequently behaves in a threatening way. While much effort has been undertaken by the research community since then to take the burden from end users and to make security systems more usable,6 it seems the situation in organizational security has not improved. According to a survey4 conducted by an online community for IT security professionals—a majority of these professionals still deems "users who are negligent or break the security policy" as "the top data breach risk." Also, as Herley suggests,7 there can be rational reasons why users do not follow security advice, simply because the cost of following it can be higher than the benefits.

At Masaryk University (MU)—a Czech university with approximately 30,000 students—we wanted to find out more about the current state of affairs from the user perspective: Do users (still not) follow the security policy? At the same time, the fact that our university IT infrastructure management had the intention to redesign the (outdated) security directive, constituted an ideal opportunity for us to deeper investigate the topic.


No entries found

Log in to Read the Full Article

Sign In

Sign in using your ACM Web Account username and password to access premium content if you are an ACM member, Communications subscriber or Digital Library subscriber.

Need Access?

Please select one of the options below for access to premium content and features.

Create a Web Account

If you are already an ACM member, Communications subscriber, or Digital Library subscriber, please set up a web account to access premium content on this site.

Join the ACM

Become a member to take full advantage of ACM's outstanding computing information resources, networking opportunities, and other benefits.

Subscribe to Communications of the ACM Magazine

Get full access to 50+ years of CACM content and receive the print version of the magazine monthly.

Purchase the Article

Non-members can purchase this article or a copy of the magazine in which it appears.