Locking the door but leaving the computer vulnerable: Factors inhibiting home users’ adoption of software firewalls

In the new era of a ubiquitously networked world, security measures are only as good as their weakest link. Home computers with access to the Internet are one of the weaker links as they are typically not as well protected as computers in the corporate world. Malicious actors can not only target such computers but also use them to launch attacks against other systems connected to the Internet, thus posing severe threats to data and infrastructure as well as disrupting electronic commerce. This paper investigates the factors that affect the use of security protection strategies by home computer users in relation to a specific, but crucial security technology for home – a software firewall. This paper proposes individuals’ concern for privacy, awareness of common security measures, attitude towards security and privacy protection technologies, and computer anxiety as important antecedents that have an impact on the users’ decision to adopt a software firewall. The results of our study suggest that attitude plays a more important role than perceived usefulness in shaping users’ intention to use firewalls. We attribute this interesting finding to the non-functional nature of firewall systems that work best in the background with a complex relationship to users’ productivity. Hence, the results add to our current understanding of Technology Acceptance Model vis-à-vis technologies that serve non-functional needs such as security. We then present a set of guidelines to home computer users, Internet Service Providers, e-commerce companies, and the government to increase home users’ adoption rate of privacy and security protection technologies.