A Risk-Driven Investment Model for Analysing Human Factors in Information Security

PhD Thesis

Mortazavi-Alavi, Reza 2016. A Risk-Driven Investment Model for Analysing Human Factors in Information Security. PhD Thesis University of East London Architecture, Computing and Engineering https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.5379
AuthorsMortazavi-Alavi, Reza
TypePhD Thesis

Information systems are of high importance in organisations because of the revolutionary industrial transformation undergone by digital and electronic platforms. A wide range of factors and issues forming the current business environments have created an unprecedented level of uncertainty and exposure to risks in all areas of strategic and operational activities in organisations including IT management and information security. Subsequently, securing these systems, which keep assets safe, serves organisational objectives. The Information Security System (ISS) is a process that organisations can adopt to achieve information security goals. It has gained the attention of academics, businesses, governments, security and IT professionals in recent years. Like any other system, the ISS is highly dependent on human factors as people are the primary concern of such systems and their roles should be taken into consideration. However, identifying reasoning and analysing human factors is a complex task. This is due to the fact that human factors are hugely subjective in nature and depend greatly on the specific organisational context. Every ISS development has unique demands both in terms of human factor specifications and organisational expectations. Developing an ISS often involves a notable proportion of risk due to the nature of technology and business demands; therefore, responding to these demands and technological challenges is critical. Furthermore, every business decision has inherent risk, and it is crucial to understand and make decisions based on the cost and potential value of that risk. Most research is solely concentrated upon the role of human factors in information security without addressing interrelated issues such as risk, cost and return of investment in security.
The central focus and novelty of this research is to develop a risk-driven investment model within the security system framework. This model will support the analysis and reasoning of human factors in the information system development process. It contemplates risk, cost and the return of investment on security controls. The model will consider concepts from Requirements Engineering (RE), Security Tropos and organisational context. This model draws from the following theories and techniques: Socio-technical theory, Requirements Engineering (RE), SWOT analysis, Delphi Expert Panel technique and Force Field Analysis (FFA). The findings underline that the roles of human factors in ISSs are not being fully recognised or embedded in organisations and there is a lack of formalisation of main human factors in information security risk management processes. The study results should confirm that a diverse level of understanding of human factors impacts security systems. Security policies and guidelines do not reflect this reality. Moreover, information security has been perceived as being solely the domain of IT departments and not a collective responsibility, with the importance of the support of senior management ignored. A further key finding is the validation of all components of the Security Risk-Driven Model (RIDIM). Model components were found to be iterative and interdependent. The RIDIM model provides a significant opportunity to identify, assess and address these elements.
Some elements of ISSs offered in this research can be used to evaluate the role of human factors in enterprise information security; therefore, the research presents some aspects of computer science and information system features to introduce a solution for a business-oriented problem. The question of how to address the psychological dimensions of human factors related to information security would, however, be a rich topic of research on its own. The risk-driven investment model provides tangible methods and values of relevant variables that define the human factors, risk and return on investment that contribute to organisations’ information security systems. Such values and measures need to be interpreted in the context of organisational culture and the risk management model. Further research into the implementation of these measurements and evaluations for improving organisational risk management is required.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.5379
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Deposited21 Nov 2016
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