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Cyber security behaviours: changing behaviours and habits of individuals

Information Security Group

Dr Konstantinos Mersinas , Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Egham United Kingdom Human Computer Interaction Information Services

About the Project

Behavioural aspects in cyber security have been drawing increasing attention in both academia and the industry. The diversity of ever-increasing cyber security attacks includes targeting humans for obtaining unauthorized access to systems and information. Traditional security awareness training campaigns are not sufficiently effective in protecting digital assets. In the same way that medical professionals urge their patients to quit smoking and exercise more, security professionals urge users to be cautious of phishing attacks and use strong passwords. Both attempts are largely unsuccessful. Thus, there is a need for behaviour change in the form of interventions which nudge and shape cyber habits of individuals long-term. In order to be successful, these interventions, however, need to be tailored to the individual’s characteristics in terms of knowledge, skills, personal traits and environment. 

With tech companies collecting user meta-data (which, however, can allow for the identification of individuals indirectly) through a variety of services, privacy violations are a valid concern today. Consequently, any customised behavioural intervention requires ethical designs to ensure the individual’s autonomy and privacy. 

This project focuses on the gaps between theoretical models of behaviour and practical implementations of cyber behaviour change, drawing on behavioural, design, cultural and ethical angles to provide interdisciplinary solutions. In particular, the project includes: 

  • The analysis of perception and behaviour in online user activities; 
  • The gap between theory and practical applications of behaviour change; 
  • The creation of ethical frameworks for behaviour change interventions; 
  • The underpinnings and design of persuasive technologies; 
  • The formation of secure user habits.

We are looking for applicants with a background in or knowledge of behavioural economics or psychology or similar disciplines which study human perception, behaviour or habits. 

Prospective applicants are welcome to discuss with  and 

Funding Notes

The studentship includes
* Tuition fees:
* Maintenance: £21,285 for each academic year.

The Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security for the Everyday can offer up to ten studentships per year, three of which can be awarded to international students (which includes EU and EEA.)
Please ensure you are familiar with the eligibility criteria set by UKRI and their terms and conditions.
In order to apply please visit the CDT website and follow the application instructions.

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