Language barriers hinder cybersecurity effectiveness: USF study

TAMPA, Fla. (April 1, 2024) – The idea for Phong Ngo’s latest research came from a television interview.

Ngo, a criminologist at the University of South Florida, told the Vietnamese Network in California that he wanted to better understand how people become victims of cybercrime.

After that, she started receiving calls from viewers telling their own stories.

“Some of the stories were disappointing and heartbreaking,” said Ngo, an associate professor in the USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. “I wondered if cybersecurity information and resources were available and accessible for non-English speakers. After further research, I found that such information and resources were limited or non-existent. Ta.”

The results are believed to be the first study to investigate the association between demographic characteristics, cyber hygiene practices, and cyber victimization using a sample of Internet users with limited English proficiency.

Ngo is the lead author of a paper, “Cyber ​​hygiene and cyber victimization among limited English proficiency (LEP) internet users: A mixed methods study,” which was just published in the journal Victims & Offenders. The article’s co-authors are Katherine Holman, a USF graduate student and former Georgia prosecutor, and Anurag Agarwal, a professor of information systems, analytics and supply chain at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Their study, which focused on Spanish and Vietnamese speakers, yielded two closely related main points.

  • LEP Internet users share the same concerns about cyber threats and the same desire for online safety as other individuals. However, a lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate resources makes it difficult to accurately collect data on cyber victimization among vulnerable populations.
  • Online guidance, which provides the most effective educational tools and reporting forms, is available only in English. The most notable example is the website of the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which serves as the FBI’s lead agency for combating cybercrime.

As a result, research reveals that many well-meaning LEP users still engage in risky online behavior, such as using insecure networks and sharing passwords. For example, only 29 percent of the study’s focus group participants said they had avoided using public Wi-Fi in the past 12 months, and only 17 percent said they had antivirus software installed on their digital devices. was.

Previous research cited in Ngo’s paper found that underserved populations have lower cybersecurity knowledge and performance, and are more likely to be at risk of computer viruses and account hacking, including social media accounts. It has been shown that it can be seen in the form of In many cases, it’s because they lack awareness or understanding, Go says, and not as a result of apathy.

“According to cybersecurity experts, humans are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain,” Go said. “If we want our digital borders to be secure, we need to ensure that all members of society, regardless of their language skills, are well-informed about the risks inherent in the cyber world.”

The findings point to the need to provide cyber hygiene information and resources in multiple formats, including visual aids and audio guides, to accommodate the diverse literacy levels within the LEP community, Ngo said. Stated. He added that more research is needed to address current security gaps and ensure fair access to cybersecurity resources for all internet users.

Meanwhile, Ngo is preparing to launch a website with cybersecurity information and resources in various languages, as well as links to reporting incidents.

“My hope is that cybersecurity information and resources will be as easily accessible in other languages ​​as other important information, such as health and safety information,” Ngo said. “We also want LEP victims to be included in national data and statistics on cybercrime, and to see their experiences accurately represented and featured in cybersecurity efforts.”

/Open to the public. This material from the original organization/author may be of a contemporary nature and has been edited for clarity, style, and length. Mirage.News does not take any institutional position or stance, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the authors. Read the full text here.

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