Holistic cyber hygiene education: Accounting for the human factors

Cybersecurity is paramount in modern cyber defense. One important factor linked to reducing human-instigated breaches of cybersecurity includes cyber hygiene. Cyber hygiene is the adaptive knowledge and behavior to mitigate risky online activities that put an individual’s social, financial, and personal information at risk – a danger that is significantly compounded when discussing the risk to entire countries as opposed to a single individual. Interestingly, even though the human is the greatest risk to cybersecurity, very little research has examined the latent individual differences associated with developing cyber hygiene-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Thus, the goal of the present study was to address this gap in cyber hygiene research. The results from 173 university participants demonstrated that several factors, such as information handling, incident reporting, and password management were associated with better cyber hygiene. Individual differences such as trust in technology and intrinsic motivation were predictive of improved cyber hygiene – but were subject to significant sex differences. Differences across academic majors, such as science and technology majors, also emerged. Finally, we discuss the importance of understanding the role of human factors in modern cybersecurity and the potential practical implications associated with refining current course curricula in computer and information sciences.