Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

The Closer You Get The More Aware You Become – A Case Study About Psychological Distance to Information Security Incidents

Jaeger, Lennart
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2017

Although the increasing number of information security incidents is causing great concern to organizations, their effects on employees’ information security awareness (ISA) are largely left unobserved. Thus, we conduct a qualitative exploratory study in a large financial institution to explore how psychological distance to such incidents influences employees’ ISA. Drawing from construal level theory and interview data from 52 employees we develop a model proposing that ISA can arise due to a lowering temporal, spatial, social, or hypothetical distance towards security incidents. Further, we propose that psychological distance may decrease with the presence of security champions or may increase with employees’ responsibility shift to others. Besides advancing the understanding of how employees construe security incidents, which triggers ISA depending on the perceived distance or proximity, we also offer organizations recommendations for security communication by proposing to manipulate distance dimensions or to artificially recreate such events for raising ISA.