Online Expression, Personal Cybersecurity Costs, and the Specter of Cybercrime

Online Expression, Personal Cybersecurity Costs, and the Specter of Cybercrime

Juhani Rauhala (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), Pasi Tyrväinen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) and Nezer Zaidenberg (College of Management Academic Studies, Israel)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch067
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The internet is used increasingly as a platform both for free expression and e-commerce. The internet has unique security and privacy risks. Such risks include the threat of criminal cyberattacks, including hacking and doxing. Internet users have a variety of attitudes towards the security and privacy risks involved with using the internet and distinct concerns and behaviors with regard to expressing themselves online. In order to mitigate the security and privacy risks of the internet, some internet users spend valuable time thinking about and configuring the security settings of their devices. They may also have different attitudes towards personal spending of money for cybersecurity products and services. This article presents a survey of research and describes a research model to address these issues. Latent factors are proposed for expression reluctance, attitude toward personal cybersecurity purchasing, and attitude toward time expenditure on cybersecurity. The authors also present the results of an analysis using two of the factors.
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The UN General Assembly has declared freedom of expression to be a universal human right (UN General Assembly, 1948). As of 2016, the United Nations has resolved that unrestricted access to the Internet is also a human right (UN Human Rights Council, 2016). A commonly accepted benefit of the Internet is that it serves as a platform for free expression. Importantly, political topics are also discussed as well as other topics without socially accepted savoir faire. However, there are potential consequences for users who make controversial or provocative expressions over the Internet from other users and organizations participating in or following the communication (Baroni, 2015; Cassidy, 2017; Jaschik, 2014). Such consequences may also be in the form of illegal doxing or hacking attacks by cybercriminals.

Users' concerns about such consequences may have an inhibiting effect on their Internet usage for free expression. This inhibiting effect may correlate with what users believe and how users behave concerning addressing security and privacy issues of their devices. The inhibiting effect may also correlate with users' attitude toward and perception of the time they spend addressing their devices’ security and privacy issues. However, the association between online expression aspects and the perception of time consumption on security aspects is lacking in prior research. Users may be reluctant to express themselves online simply because anonymity costs too much time and effort. That is, the users may be aware of the importance and abundance of tools providing anonymity and may wish to express themselves online but decide that spending time on anonymity is just too much effort. Concern about such consequences may not only have an inhibiting effect on users’ use of the Internet for expression but it may also correlate with their desire to purchase personal cybersecurity products and anonymizing services.

Another generally accepted beneficial use of the Internet is as a platform for commerce, which is continuously increasing (, 2014). At the same time, spending by consumers and businesses on cybersecurity products and services is also increasing (Morgan, 2017). It is reasonable to expect that users purchase a significant proportion of personal cybersecurity software online. It is possible that misgivings of users about the Internet as a platform for free expression may correlate with increased Internet utilization by those same users for commerce in personal cybersecurity products and services. This article explores this somewhat paradoxical relationship given that the Internet is seen as an overall good for humanity. It leads to a focus of this chapter; that is, to the consideration of users' reluctance to express themselves in relation to their attitudes and perceptions regarding the time and money they invest in security. This is relevant to participation in social media and other online expression contexts.

To facilitate research and discussion on this topic, six latent factors are elucidated: three corresponding to a reluctance to self-express online, one corresponding to a belief that handling security and privacy aspects of one's device requires an excessive amount (“too much”) of one's time, and one for time considering device cybersecurity and privacy settings aspects. The sixth factor corresponds to a positive predilection toward personal spending to enhance personal cybersecurity. The correlation among two of these factors is then analyzed. A linear regression of one latent factor against the other and against a demographic factor is also performed.

This chapter presents an overview of related research, followed by a description of a proposed research model. It then establishes the general latent factors. Some results are presented and discussed, followed by a description of future research suggestions, and a conclusion.

Key Terms in this Chapter

LOM: Loss of money; personal cybersecurity spending attitude and behavior; the willingness to buy software products or services that enhance personal cybersecurity.

TChS: Thinking about and changing settings; time considering two aspects of one’s ICT device – contemplation of the device’s cybersecurity aspects and whether time is consumed specifically for the checking and possibly changing of device settings that relate to security and privacy.

HFI: Human freedom index; a numerical measure of the personal and economic freedom available in a country. It is measured annually. The HFI is determined from an evaluation of over 70 different indicators for each measured country.

RtoExnonC: Reluctance to express when users are not reminded of possible consequences or safety issues resulting from the expression.

TMT: Too much time; the belief that cybersecurity risk amelioration requires excessive usage of one’s time.

RtoExC: Reluctance to express due to concerns of possible consequences or safety; the reluctance to freely express oneself online due to concerns of possible consequences or safety issues resulting from the expression.

RtoEx: Reluctance to express; the reluctance to freely express oneself online or on the internet.

Social Exchange Theory: A behavioral theory that seeks to explain the interaction between a person and another person or entity. Its fundamental proposition is that the interaction is influenced by the person's evaluation of the interaction's risks versus rewards.

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