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Businesses can improve cyber security by linking staff training to personality

09 January 2020

Businesses can improve cyber security by tailoring training in line with their staff’s personality type, says a global study presented at the BPS conference this week.

Involving more than 560 employees the study, by chartered psychologist John Hackston from The Myers-Briggs Company, asked office staff from around the world about the type of place they worked and their experiences of cyber security. They also completed personality questionnaires. 

After looking at the results it appeared that different personality types were linked to different cyber security behaviours, such as how conscientious people were in following rules and how diligent people are in keeping passwords and devices secure.

For example introverts were more likely than extraverts to agree that “no-one should put confidential business information in email, instant messenger (IM) or texts, as they may not be secure”. 

Also those who prefer practical information and like to be organised were more likely to conscientiously follow rules.

The study also found that:

  • 64 per cent of people believed they had been the subject of a cyber-attack in the last year;

  • 15 per cent believed they had experienced such an attack in the past week;

  • Men were more likely than women to report having experienced a recent cyber-attack;

  • Those working in the United States were on average the highest on ‘conscientiously follows rules’, significantly more so than those working in India, who were the lowest.

Hackston commented that:

“With the rise of cyber security attacks, cyber-savvy employees are crucial in keeping information safe.

It’s clear to be really secure one size does not fit all. Organisations would benfit if they considered the personality preferences of their staff when organsiing training." 

John will present his paper today at the Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference in Stratord-upon-Avon.

Follow the conference #DOPconf

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