Heuristics and Biases in Cyber Security Dilemmas

Publication Type: 
Heather Rosoff
Jinchu Cui
Richard S. John
Cyber security often depends on decisions made by human operators, who are commonly considered a major cause of security failures. We conducted 2 behavioral experiments to explore whether and how cyber security decision-making responses depend on gain–loss framing and salience of a primed recall prior experience. In Experiment I, we employed a 2 9 2 factorial design, manipulating the frame (gain vs. loss) and the presence versus absence of a prior near-miss experience. Results suggest that the experience of a near-miss significantly increased respondents’ endorsement of safer response options under a gain frame. Overall, female respondents were more likely to select a risk averse (safe) response compared with males. Experiment II followed the same general paradigm, framing all consequences in a loss frame and manipulating recall to include one of three possible prior experiences: false alarm, near-miss, or a hit involving a loss of data. Results indicate that the manipulated prior hit experience significantly increased the likelihood of respondents’ endorsement of a safer response relative to the manipulated prior near-miss experience. Conversely, the manipulated prior false-alarm experience significantly decreased respondents’ likelihood of endorsing a safer response relative to the manipulated prior near-miss experience. These results also showed a main effect for age and were moderated by respondent’s income level.