Business Review - The Role of Emotions in Information Security

Sep 17, 2020

More and more companies are asking employees to take an active role in Information Security.  Doctor A.J. Burns, Assistant Professor of Information Systems discusses the role of our emotions and what companies can do to boost engagement in security.

MORE AND MORE COMPANIES ARE ASKING EMPLOYEES TO TAKE AN ACTIVE ROLE IN INFORMATION SECURITY. DOCTOR A.J. BURNS, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS. DISCUSSES THE ROLE OF OUR EMOTIONS AND WHAT COMPANIES CAN DO TO BOOST ENGAGEMENT IN SECURITY. 

Emotions are these really amazing behavioral intermediaries, meaning that behaviors flow through 

emotion. Negative emotions don't typically lead you towards behavior, they lead you away from behavior. Whereas positive emotions help you to engage.

UNDERSTANDING HOW OUR EMOTIONS AFFECT OUR BEHAVIORS CAN  HELP COMPANIES SEEKING EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT. WHEN COMPANIES FOCUS ON POSITIVE EMOTIONS IN REGARD TO INFORMATION SECURITY, EMPLOYEES ARE MORE LIKELY TO ENGAGE IN DESIRED BEHAVIORS.

So, one of the things that we're kind of seeing now is that rather than just trying to avoid making mistakes, companies are actually calling on their employees to do something. Not just avoid something, actually proactively screen their email and report it to IT. Most of the time we think about security, we're thinking about fear and most training programs and things they're geared towards telling people how bad the problem is that, they'll be afraid and hopefully that means they won't make mistakes with security. You really have to consider the whole person when you're thinking about training them for security, and recognizing that they experience a whole range of emotions, and that you can actually leverage more than just those negative emotions. And in fact, as you think about needing your employees to do things for you to help protect your firm, you really ought to think about how you can relate that positively and elicit positive emotions around security.

THE BUSINESS REVIEW IS A PRODUCTION OF LIVINGSTON & MCKAY, AND THE HANKAMER SCHOOL OF BUSINESS AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY.