28 Miami University students and 26 employees in American Electric Powers Rate,
Research and Design department took part in a survey designed to ascertain current levels
of internet security. What factor does age or
frequency of use play in internet security? Which
online transactions are people less comfortable with?
How aware are people of recent hacking events and what effects does it have on
their overall security?
When interpreting the results of this survey, we looked for
significant effects linking internet security to age, frequency of use, and recent hacking
events. The online transactions used were
online banking, e-commerce, giving out personal information to join organizations,
dispensing personal information to others met in chats, giving out email address, making
travel arrangements, e-trade, and downloading programs and files to a personal computer. To gather a general feel for overall internet
security, we combined the various online activities and then compared the various factors. The different transactions were also looked at
individually and the factors considered.
a = Adults
s = Students
f = Frequent Users
o = Occasional Users
s = Seldom Users
y = Yes - aware of hacking events
n = No aware of hacking events
What are the differences in internet security between the students
and the adults?
findings are somewhat surprising in their evenness one might assume the students
would be more nonchalant in their approach and the adults more cautious. However, adults and students are both frequent
computer users and display the same degree of security when performing online transactions
overall. When we broke it down into the
individual online activities, students reported feeling much more secure about downloading
programs and files onto their personal computers, F(1,52)=4.597,p=.037.
The only other individual category that deviated from the average concerned
sharing email address; adults are slightly less comfortable dispensing this information
than students are, but the results only approach significant numbers, F(1,52)=3.917,p=.053. Adults possess much more awareness of recent
hacking events compared to students (hey, we dont have time to read the newspaper!),
frequent users display any noticeable trend towards higher levels of internet security?
Contradictory to our predictions, there was no significant increase in
users security proportional to their frequency of use. While most of those surveyed reported frequent
computer use, people using the internet occasionally or even seldom showed equal comfort
levels overall. The one significant result
deals with e-commerce (purchasing goods online, giving credit card numbers). More frequent computer users are mostly
comfortable with shopping online.
individual online activities showed no considerable change between users. Also, knowledge of recent hacking events displayed
no effect among users of different frequencies.
So of those polled who reported
awareness of recent hacking events, did this knowledge affect their level of internet
Actually, there was no evident connection between knowledge of hackers and
levels of comfort pertaining to online transactions.
We had predicted that people who were more knowledgeable about recent hacking
events would either be more cautious (since they know the possibilities) or more secure
(because they understand how to protect themselves).
Neither was apparent, however, and security levels remained constant.
Overall, were there certain
activities that people seemed more cautious about performing over the Internet??
The only individual area
that showed a significant degree of overall caution was
dispensing information to others met in chat rooms (not an astounding result), t(52)=13.474,p<.001.
On a final note, survey says that...
The last question on the survey was an open-ended one:
If you are aware of recent hacking events, how has this affected how secure you feel??
Here are some comments people had to offer. As
you can see, there are many parallels between what the students and the adults had to say. This is very representative of our survey results,
which found little difference between age groups concerning Internet security.
Some of these events have confirmed my
fears, but overall, I continue my normal (cautious) activities online.
I am uneasy overall I keep my
I always check out security information
before giving any credit card numbers, but I normally take the idealistic approach and
think it wont happen to me.
If you research the site you are disclosing
info on, you can find info supporting how safe it is to download or disclose info.
I dont have the lots of money and
power theyd be after.
Doesnt bother me at all, most of
these hacks are a joke or for fun.
It has confirmed my skepticism about
putting out certain personal information over the internet.
Ill continue to wait and give more security opportunity to take hold.
Added a firewall program on our home PC
didnt change what I do online.
I always look for the security information
and reconcile credit card statements to insure that no fraudulent charges have been billed
to me. I never visit chat rooms. Cyber-stalking is also a real concern of
I have no control over it and must rely on
companies security procedures.
Just hope it doesnt negatively impact
I have to go with whats going on in
the world and keep up with the times.
If I wasnt uneasy enough before, this
has just secured my fears.
Most hacking is against organizations,
businesses, government, etc., not individuals.
Concern raised, but definitely not deterred from use.
E-Commerce: Article Review
A look at some particular views on
e-commerce - a Canadian perspective and from the point-of-view of the credit card
companies and financial institutions.
Friedman, Matthew. Fear of
hackers keeps businesses off the Internet. Computing
Canada. Nov. 9, 1999.
Canadian businesses are afraid of the Internet
and believe opening their businesses online is the equivalent of sending a digital
invitation to the underground hacker elite to come steal all their information. They worry about things they dont really
understand and buy security products they may not even need because of the press, the
entertainment industry, and the advertising of companies like IBM. At least according to Andre Chartier, a senior
security consultant with the DMR Group in Montreal. He
says, There was such bad press about hackers and Internet security that it is not
surprising that people are still afraid. The
point is that Canadian businesses are so surrounded by media influences that they fail to
realize the potential for business on the Internet, and in truth, how secure it really is. In Chartiers opinion, security is not a
matter of technology and protective software (firewalls, etc.) but of human error and
procedure. Its like sex, if
youre not careful and you poke a hole in your condom, you may not pick up a disease
but then again, there is a chance you will.
Basically, people just need to be conscientious and careful but not afraid. Fear isnt the correct response. Movies like The Net, to TV shows like The
X-Files, and other hacker lore promoted by such companies as Big Blue promotes false
images of the big, bad hacker coming to take away all you data.
Anonymous. A hacker confirms
fears of card fraud. Credit Card
Management. Feb. 2000.
Despite all the lingering fears over purchasing
merchandise online with credit card information, this past holiday season saw the steady
rise of its popularity. It appears electronic
commerce has been accepted as millions of Americans chose to do their shopping sitting in
front of their computer screens. eUniverse
announced that one of its subsidiaries, CD Universe, had been hacked and customer data
stolen. These 25,000 numbers were then posted
on an Internet site by a hacker known as Maxus. Worried
customers continue to shop online despite this news when the company promises to improve
its security standards.
Dernovsek, Darla. Managing
on-line risk. Credit Union Magazine. Nov. 1999.
Credit unions and other financial
institutions are among the top targets for online criminals according to the experts. Roger Nebel, vice president of HomeCom Internet
Security Services says, Because technology cant keep up with the threat, you
have to have the process in place to continually assess your risk. Risk is the intersection of threat and
vulnerability. However, none of your
risk management matters if the customer is too frightened to use the Internet services
provided by these financial institutions. Hesitant
members can find the faith in a system bolstered by as little as a reassurance that
security issues are being assessed on a regular basis.
They become much more receptive when the there is less perceived threat. Credit unions need to realize that it
isnt just technology, but that people and processes are just as important,
Nebel says. This means fostering attitudes,
training workers, and making security a priority.
McCormick, Colleen. Webbing the
customer. Forbes. Sept. 1998.
The Myths and Realities of Putting Customer
Putting customer service online appears to be obvious the greater
speed, accessibility, and flexibility are readily apparent.
However, some issues need to be looked at before this can become a reality. First of all, employees must be trained in web
design that is easy for all to use. Customers
will not utilize a confusing interface. Security
issues need to be resolved so that people feel free dispensing the necessary sensitive
information without fear of hackers.
. Back to Psybersite
This project was produced for PSY 380, Social Psychology of Cyberspace,
Spring 2000, at Miami University. All graphics
in these pages are used with permission or under fair use guidelines, are in the public
domain, or were created by the authors. Last revised: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 17:34: %3 This document
has been accessed 1 times since 1 May 2000.
Comments and Questions to R. Sherman.