Purdue University Graduate School

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Analyzing the Nexus between Cyberaggression and Cybersecurity Insider Threat Dynamics

posted on 2024-04-27, 01:45 authored by Anirudh VempatiAnirudh Vempati

In the modern, internet-connected world, online actions have a big impact. Organizational information system security is a complex issue, with both external attacks and internal vulnerabilities posing serious risks. Although there is ample evidence linking job discontent and stress in the context of insider threat prediction, the stress caused by a perceived lack of social support is mostly unstudied. This research seeks to address this gap by assessing how aggressive behaviors outside the workplace and the absence of offline social support can predict insider threat behaviors within organizations. Given the prevalence of insider threats, a comprehensive investigation into their motivations and actions is imperative. Understanding these dynamics can provide organizations with crucial insights to effectively manage this persistent risk. The widespread nature of insider threats calls for a thorough study into their roots, motives, and behaviors. By comprehensively analyzing these factors, companies can gain valuable insights into insider threats' dynamics and develop effective risk management strategies.

The study conducted a survey with 206 participants recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), analyzing data using SPSS. The survey consisted of several questionnaires, including demographic information, insider threat traits, cyberaggressive behaviors, online and offline social support. The correlational analysis revealed significant variables related to insider threat characteristics. The results of the study suggested that Cyberbullying and Deception were significant predictors of Hacking and Identity Theft. Additionally, individuals displaying traits of Unwanted Contact and Online Harassment outside the workplace were more likely to exhibit insider threat behaviors within an organization. Notably, the lack of online social support was not found to be indicative of insider threats. However, the absence of offline social support was associated with an increased probability of individuals engaging in cybercrimes within organizational settings.

The findings suggest that organizations and information security policymakers should implement strategies to mitigate insider threats effectively. To manage insider threats, organizations should focus on behavioral cues, implement positive interventions and utilize technical monitoring to track online actions of insiders. Understanding the psychological, behavioral, and technical aspects of insider threats is crucial for early detection and prevention. Policymakers at companies should not only focus on traditional background checks related to criminal history but also consider psychological and behavioral factors to prevent insider threats effectively. By integrating these insights into policies and practices, companies can enhance their ability to mitigate potential insider threats effectively.

The present study augments the existing literature on insider threats and cyber aggression by examining the influence of stressors on employee behavior. Building upon prior research, this investigation delves into the nuanced impact of both offline and online social support systems on stress levels experienced by employees. It explores how the absence of adequate offline and online social support can exacerbate stress levels, consequently increasing the likelihood of insider threats and cyber aggression. In conclusion, the findings of this research contribute significantly to our understanding of the pivotal role of offline social support in mitigating workplace stress. Moreover, it underscores the importance of understanding individual online presence and background verification processes in evaluating potential risks within the workplace.


Computer and Information Technology


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Computer and Information Technology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Kathryn C. Seigfried-Spellar

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Marcus K. Rogers

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Tatiana R. Ringenberg

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