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Do you need a vibrating cyber security nudge?

Holly Breckon Profile Image

Holly Breckon
June 13, 2019

Recently, members of our team took part in a University of Bath cyber security research project, known as ‘Gentle Interventions for Security (GIFS)’.

Rising cost of cyberattacks

According to UoB, the cost of cyberattacks is reported to have risen by 67% in just five years, with the majority of breaches being due to human error.

Dr Emily Collins, Research Associate at the University of Bath’s School of Management, said: “Humans are the weak link in cyber security. We know that people feel overloaded with data breaches reported in the news and overwhelmed about what they should be doing to protect themselves. Many of us know we’re not on top of security but translating that nagging worry into positive action just isn’t happening. It’s leaving us all open to serious security threats.”

It’s fair to say that most people are a little guilty of ignoring traditional security reminders for their computers and devices, from password change reminders and privacy settings updates, to leaving your desktop open and unattended at your desk.

Reducing human cyber security breaches

The idea behind the GIFS projects is simply to remind us to lock our screens when we leave our desks. 

After the success of fitness apps that give you a physical vibration to make a behaviour change, the research team are designing a protype device to prompt you to not leave your computer unattended.

Storm team members, Alice, Dylan and Hannah agreed to take part in a discussion-based workshop to determine their preferences of what this nudge could be and what it could look like.

Hosted by Dr Emily Collins and Dr Joanne Hinds, the team were presented with a variety of design options. From cute glowing desktop ghosts to chirping birds, they discussed which designs would motivate them to make a change whilst not being too distracting in an open office environment.

What motivated Storm?

Alice Hill, Project Manager at Storm commented: “The GIFs project really made us realise how easy it is to forget to lock your desktop. Office workers step away from their desks to speak to another colleague or make a cup of tea without even thinking about it. Since just taking part in the research we’ve all definitely noticed we’re much more conscious about our behaviour!

“During the workshop, we realised we’re all secretly a little competitive here at Storm. Once we had provided our opinions on the physical design of the devices, we discussed the idea of introducing a gamification feature so that we could track our progress. There are certainly team members here who would enjoy being top of a leader board!”

The research team hope to have a working prototype available to businesses later in the year. It could be tailored for home use in the future.

If you or your business would like to contribute to this research, find out how to take part here.

More information regarding the GIFS project.