Factors Influencing College Students’ Use of Computer Security

Factors Influencing College Students’ Use of Computer Security

Norman Pendegraft (University of Idaho, USA), Mark Rounds (University of Idaho, USA) and Robert W. Stone (University of Idaho, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0026-3.ch013
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Information systems administrators face a difficult balance between providing sufficient security to protect the organization’s computing resources while not inhibiting the appropriate use of these resources. Striking this balance is particularly difficult in higher education due to the diversity of computer uses and users. This is accentuated by one large, diverse user group, namely students. To facilitate striking such a balance, a better understanding of students’ motivations to use security measures is useful. A theoretically sound model linking student and system security characteristics to students’ security behaviors is developed and presented in this paper. The model is operationalized using student responses to a web-based questionnaire. The empirical results show that training to use security measures has no impact on students’ security behaviors while experience with security does. Furthermore, ease of security use positively impacts students’ security behaviors through security self-efficacy. The influence of peers has similar impacts through security outcome expectancy.
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The Theoretical Model

The research extends the works of Rounds, Pendegraft, and Stone (2008) and Rounds Pendegraft, Pendegraft, and Stone (2008) by examining the attitudes and behaviors of students toward computer security. A formal model of student security attitudes and behaviors is presented and empirically examined. The theoretical model is grounded in social cognitive theory as pioneered by Bandura (1982, 1986). The application of social cognitive theory has been shown to be meaningful in explaining motivation, behavior, and affective reactions in a variety situations and applications. Among these applications are ones applied to computer and technology adoption and use characteristics. For example, social cognitive theory has been used to study the antecedents of knowledge management systems (Lin & Huang, 2008), computer system use (Stone & Henry, 2001), computer users’ organizational commitment (Stone & Henry, 2003), and computer users’ perceptions of job control and stress (Henry & Stone, 1999). Other studies have used key constructs from social cognitive theory (e.g., self-efficacy and outcome expectancy or perceived usefulness) in their theoretical model and empirical analysis. For example, Hasan (2007) examined the role of computer self-efficacy and system complexity as antecedents to the acceptance of technology. Similarly, Hsu and Chao (2004) used Internet self-efficacy to study electronic service acceptance by users. Finally, Zhao, Mattila, and Li-Shan (2008) used post-training self-efficacy to study customers’ use of self service technologies.

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