Understanding Susceptibility to Social Engineering Attacks Through Online Privacy Behaviors
Human-based social engineering attacks continue to grow in popularity, with increasing numbers of cases reported yearly. This can be accredited to the ease with which common social engineering attacks can be launched, and the abundance of information available online that attackers can use against their targets. Current mitigative strategies and awareness trainings against social engineering attacks incorporate an understanding of the major factors that influence individual susceptibility to social engineering attacks. These strategies emphasize an engagement in secure behaviors and practices, especially with respect to identifying the key indicators in any form of communication or situation that can classify it as a social engineering attack. There is also an emphasis on restricting the amount of information that individuals should share about themselves in workplace settings. However, these approaches do not comprehensively consider the different intrinsic motivations that individuals develop to engage in the protective behaviors necessary to assure their safety against social engineering attacks, regardless of environment. Individual attitudes and behaviors about online privacy could hold the key to defending oneself by way of restricting unwarranted access to associated information online. Psychological traits and attitudes developed in response to the perception of social engineering as a threat could act as motivators for engaging in privacy protective behaviors, which in turn could affect the extent to which an individual can protect themselves from social engineering attacks. This thesis investigates the role of privacy protective behaviors in impacting an individual’s susceptibility to social engineering attacks and the impacts of specific privacy factors as motivating antecedents to engagement in privacy protective behaviors.