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A vocabulary test to assess information security awareness

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Purpose ‐ The dependence on human involvement and human behavior to protect information assets necessitates an information security awareness program to make people aware of their roles and responsibilities towards information security. The purpose of this paper is to examine the feasibility of an information security vocabulary test as an aid to assess awareness levels and to assist with the identification of suitable areas or topics to be included in an information security awareness program. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A questionnaire has been designed to test and illustrate the feasibility of a vocabulary test. The questionnaire consists of two sections ‐ a first section to perform a vocabulary test and a second one to evaluate respondents' behavior. Two different class groups of students at a university were used as a sample. Findings ‐ The research findings confirmed that the use of a vocabulary test to assess security awareness levels will be beneficial. A significant relationship between knowledge of concepts (vocabulary) and behavior was observed. Originality/value ‐ The paper introduces a new approach to evaluate people's information security awareness levels by employing an information security vocabulary test. This new approach can assist management to plan and evaluate interventions and to facilitate best practice in information security. Aspects of cognitive psychology and language were taken into account in this research project, indicating the interaction and influence between apparently different disciplines.

Keywords: Cognition; Data security; Language; Semantics; Tests and testing

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-11-23

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