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Nudging whom how: IT proficiency, impulse control and secure behaviour

This paper considers the utility of employing behavioural nudges to change security-related behaviours. We examine the possibility that the effectiveness of nudges may depend on individual user characteristics – which represents a starting point for more personalized behaviour change in security. We asked participants to select from a menu of public wireless networks, using colour and menu order to ‘nudge’ participants towards making more secure choices. The preliminary results from 67 participants suggest that while nudging can be an effective tool to help non-experts to select more secure networks, certain user differences may also play a role. Lower (novice level) IT proficiency and diminished impulse control led to poorer security decisions. At the same time, we were able to demonstrate that our nudge effectively changed the behaviour of participants with poor impulse control. We discuss these implications and pose several questions for future research.

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