Leveraging Greater Social Engagement for Improved Cyber Hygiene

Cisco | May 19, 2020

  • Social Cybersecurity is a new and emerging concept and paradigm that basically involves how better cybersecurity behaviors can be inclined positively using social influence.

  • Practicing proper cyber hygiene in order to protect themselves and others, from the ill effects of cybercrime or cybersecurity issues.

  • There exist any number of tasks and approaches that can be undertaken to protect our computer systems from cybersecurity risks.


You don’t have to look too far around to find someone who may not be practicing proper cyber hygiene in order to protect themselves and others, from the ill effects of cybercrime or cybersecurity issues. For example, despite the fact that we may be aware that using the same user ID or email account and password, for different cloud services, is considered risky behavior, and could result in a potential account hack or data breach, yet we do not change this behavior. How often do you share your best practices for securing your devices, cloud service applications, mobile applications and home networking equipment for connecting to the Internet with those around you in a social situation or manner?


Do you recommend the use of available security settings to those around you in your social circles? Do you show them how to quickly implement the security settings? In this article we discuss some ways for improving cyber hygiene. Social Cybersecurity is a new and emerging concept and paradigm that basically involves how better cybersecurity behaviors can be inclined positively using social influence. It’s worth to keep an eye out for the research going on regarding social cybersecurity, because it may have some answers to getting people and companies to better protect themselves.



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“Even if this approach has a small positive effect on improving cyber hygiene, it is worth it, because something must change if we are going to help individuals better protects themselves.”

~ Stan Mierzwa, Director


Even if this approach has a small positive effect on improving cyber hygiene, it is worth it, because something must change if we are going to help individuals better protects themselves. There exist any number of tasks and approaches that can be undertaken to protect our computer systems from cybersecurity risks. This ranges from ensuring you install and keep your anti-virus or endpoint protection system up to date, apply software security updates, encrypt sensitive data, backup our important data, and this list can continue to grow.

“Social Cybersecurity brings a dimension with consideration for the individual, not the computer, and how with social psychology, usable and powerful social forces, such as social norms, can have outsized influences on people’s behaviors and perceptions of risk.”


Social Cybersecurity brings a dimension with consideration for the individual, not the computer, and how with social psychology, usable and powerful social forces, such as social norms, can have outsized influences on people’s behaviors and perceptions of risk. The Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and other researchers are bringing focus to this new scientific area of cybersecurity. As their website (www.socialcybersecurity.org) mentions, this group is leveraging insights from social psychology and other fields to develop novel interventions and strategies for nudging adoption of expert-recommended tools and practices. Can we leverage social interactions or the influence of social situations to enhance our cyber hygiene or help thwart cyber threats?


The research results from interviews done provided a theme that the observability of security feature usage was a key enabler of socially triggered behavior change and conversation – in encouraging the spread of positive behaviors, discouraging negative behaviors, and getting participants in the study to talk about security. The work presented is innovative and brings encouragement and opportunities in how systems can be designed to encourage better cybersecurity behaviors. One can also think of Social Cybersecurity in contrast and comparison to the criminological theory called “Social Learning Theory”. In Social Learning theory, delinquents are likely to engage in deviant or criminal behavior when those actions have been positively reinforced.


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