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Exploring potential gender differences in information security and privacy

McGill, T. and Thompson, N. (2021) Exploring potential gender differences in information security and privacy. Information & Computer Security, ahead-of-print .

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Information technology users often fail to adopt necessary security and privacy measures, leading to increased risk of cybercrimes. There has been limited research on how demographic differences influence information security behaviour and understanding this could be important in identifying users who may be more likely to have poor information security behaviour. This study aims to investigate whether there are any gender differences in security and privacy behaviours and perceptions, to identify potential differences that may have implications for protecting users’ privacy and securing their devices, software and data.


This paper addresses this research gap by investigating security behaviours and perceptions in the following two studies: one focussing on information security and one on information privacy. Data was collected in both studies using anonymous online surveys.


This study finds significant differences between men and women in over 40% of the security and privacy behaviours considered, suggesting that overall levels of both are significantly lower for women than for men, with behaviours that require more technical skill being adopted less by female users. Furthermore, individual perceptions exhibited some gender differences.


This research suggests that potential gender differences in some security and privacy behaviours and perceptions should be taken into account when designing information security education, training and awareness initiatives for both organisations and the broader community. This study also provides a strong foundation to explore information security individual differences more deeply.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): IT, Media and Communications
Publisher: Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright: © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited
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