Response to a phishing attack: persuasion and protection motivation in an organizational context

This study aims to examine the effect of cybersecurity threat and efficacy upon click-through, response to a phishing attack: persuasion and protection motivation in an organizational context. In a simulated field trial conducted in a financial institute, via PhishMe, employees were randomly sent one of five possible emails using a set persuasion strategy. Participants were then invited to complete an online survey to identify possible protective factors associated with clicking and reporting behavior (N = 2,918). The results indicate that response behaviors vary significantly across different persuasion strategies. Perceptions of threat susceptibility increased the likelihood of reporting behavior beyond clicking behavior. Threat susceptibility and organizational response efficacy were also associated with increased odds of not responding to the simulated phishing email attack. The results suggest heightened awareness of phishing threats and responsibility to personal cybersecurity are key to ensuring secure business environments.