Is it better to use inclusiveness and positive reinforcement when educating the young about the need to be cyber vigilant?

According to its research with educators, Kaspersky, in partnership with the Singapore Institute of Technology, three factors were identified among 157 respondents in July and August last year: coping appraisal, awareness of Wi-Fi connection risks, and the benefits of strong password hygiene.

      1. Coping appraisal

      Coping appraisal refers to one’s own assessment of the efficacy of a behavioral response to a threat, the degree of difficulty in enacting the response, and the costs associated with carrying out that response.

      In essence, respondents who had a significant understanding of the negative consequences of practicing poor cyber hygiene were more likely to adopt stronger measures and discipline to mitigate or prevent cyber incidents.

      Interestingly, age, gender and educational levels had no impact on the results among respondents.

      Coping appraisal was the strongest determinant for their motivation to connect to secure Wi-Fi, avoid visiting unknown clickable links, and practice strong password hygiene.

      2. Awareness of internet connection risks

      Another factor that could help determine why and how people used internet connections such as free/unsecured Wi-Fi connections was their level of awareness of the dangers of not ensuring security of the connection.

      Respondents indicated that, if they were informed of the specific hazards of using free/unsafe Wi-Fi hotspots, and the benefits of taking more precautions, their response to cybersecurity messaging and education would be amplified positively.

      3. Adoption of strong password hygiene

      In the survey findings, more respondents indicated they would adopt a complex password if they received instructions on how to make the latter memorable.

Strengthening cyber education

With these three determinants of motivation factors (at least among the respondents in the three countries) understood, positive-messaging campaigns can then be fine-tuned in the following ways:

    • Highlight what one can do — and do so confidently — to address cybersecurity issues and threats. The recommended actions should underscore how effective they are in preventing or mitigating these threats. Empowering messages should be salient and relatable.
    • Rather than appealing to fear factors, when creating persuasive messages about cybersecurity, focus on people can learn about cyber threats and thereby prevent, respond to, and overcome these threats by making more-informed decisions.
    • Leverage people’s tendency to protect themselves (and friends/loved ones) from harm — by changing any unsupportive pre-existing attitudes.