Human-centric cyber security: Applying protection motivation theory to analyse micro business owners’ security behaviours

Hassan Jamil, Tanveer Zia, Tahmid Nayeem, Monica T. Whitty, Steven D'Alessandro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: The current advancements in technologies and the internet industry provide users with many innovative digital devices for entertainment, communication and trade. However, simultaneous development and the rising sophistication of cybercrimes bring new challenges. Micro businesses use technology like how people use it at home, but face higher cyber risks during riskier transactions, with human error playing a significant role. Moreover, information security researchers have often studied individuals’ adherence to compliance behaviour in response to cyber threats. The study aims to examine the protection motivation theory (PMT)-based model to understand individuals’ tendency to adopt secure behaviours. Design/methodology/approach: The study focuses on Australian micro businesses since they are more susceptible to cyberattacks due to the least security measures in place. Out of 877 questionnaires distributed online to Australian micro business owners through survey panel provider “Dynata,” 502 (N = 502) complete responses were included. Structural equational modelling was used to analyse the relationships among the variables. Findings: The results indicate that all constructs of the protection motivation, except threat susceptibility, successfully predict the user protective behaviours. Also, increased cybersecurity costs negatively impact users’ safe cyber practices. Originality/value: The study has critical implications for understanding micro business owners’ cyber security behaviours. The study contributes to the current knowledge of cyber security in micro businesses through the lens of PMT.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalInformation and Computer Security
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Apr 2024


  • computer security
  • Cyber security behaviour
  • micro business
  • protection motivation theory
  • security compliance

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