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Research library | Thesis / Dissertation
| 12/05/2023

Investigation of human weaknesses in organizational cybersecurity: A meta-analytic approach

Khaled M. Alnifie

The rapid proliferation of digital technology and the increasing reliance on digital systems have made cybersecurity a critical concern for organizations and individuals worldwide. While technical solutions have been the primary focus in addressing cybersecurity threats, the human element has often been overlooked, despite evidence suggesting that human behavior is a significant contributor to cybersecurity incidents. This dissertation examines the influence of three psychological factors—optimism bias, social media addiction, and diffusion of responsibility—on cybersecurity behaviors and outcomes, with a focus on their implications for organizational cybersecurity. The research employed a meta-aggregation approach to systematically review and synthesize the findings from empirical studies on the relationships between the three psychological factors and cybersecurity. The meta-aggregation involved a comprehensive search of relevant databases, resulting in the inclusion of multiple studies that met the predefined eligibility criteria. Through the meta-aggregation process, the relationships between the psychological factors and cybersecurity outcomes were quantified, generating mean effect sizes and assessing the heterogeneity of the studies.

The findings of the meta-aggregation revealed a moderate effect size for the relationship between optimism bias and risky cybersecurity behaviors, indicating that individuals with higher levels of optimism bias are more likely to engage in behaviors that compromise cybersecurity. Similarly, a moderate effect size was found for the relationship between social media addiction and risky cybersecurity behaviors, suggesting that excessive
usage of social media is a significant predictor of poor cybersecurity practices. For diffusion of responsibility, the meta-analysis revealed a negative relationship with organizational cybersecurity, indicating that organizations with higher levels of diffusion of responsibility experience lower levels of cybersecurity.

The dissertation discusses the theoretical and practical implications of these findings, highlighting the contribution of the meta-aggregation to the existing body of knowledge on the human element in cybersecurity. The study offers novel insights and perspectives on the relationships between the psychological factors and cybersecurity and identifies gaps in the existing literature. It also discusses the potential application of the findings to enhance cybersecurity practices in real-world contexts, inform the development of cybersecurity policies and guidelines, and shape cybersecurity education and training programs.

The study concludes with a discussion of the limitations of the research and provides suggestions for future research directions. By examining the influence of psychological factors on cybersecurity, this dissertation contributes to a deeper understanding of the human element in cybersecurity, ultimately paving the way for the development of more effective strategies and interventions to mitigate cybersecurity risks and protect organizations and individuals from cyber threats.

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