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Eleventh International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security & Assurance (HAISA 2017)
Title: Persuading End Users to Act Cautiously Online: Initial Findings of a Fear Appeals Study on Phishing
Author(s): Jurjen Jansen, Paul van Schaik
Keywords: Information Security Behaviour, Fear Appeals, Protection Motivation Theory, Phishing, Online Information-sharing Behaviour, Human Factors
Abstract: This study examined the impact of fear appeals on user cognitions and behavioural intentions with regard to minimizing the threat of phishing attacks. 1,201 Internet users filled out an online survey and were presented with one of three fear appeal conditions: strong fear appeal, weak fear appeal and no fear appeal. Arguments regarding perceived vulnerability of phishing attacks and arguments concerning response efficacy of vigilant online information-sharing behaviour were manipulated in the fear appeals. Analysis of variance showed that the strong fear appeal message elevated threat appraisal, coping appraisal and protection motivation. Partial least squares path modelling showed little variation between the three groups concerning explained variance of protection motivation and fear. Nonetheless, we conclude that precautionary online behavioural intentions can be raised by making Internet users aware of the threat while simultaneously providing behavioural advice on how to mitigate this threat.
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