Nav: Home

Cultural differences account for global gap in online regulation -- study

December 02, 2019

Differences in cultural values have led some countries to tackle the spectre of cyber-attacks with increased internet regulation, whilst others have taken a 'hands-off' approach to online security - a new study shows.

Internet users gravitate towards one of two 'poles' of social values. Risk-taking users are found in 'competitive' national cultures prompting heavy regulation, whilst web users in 'co-operative' nations exhibit less risky behaviour requiring lighter regulation.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham used cultural value measurements from 74 countries to predict the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), which measures state commitments of countries to cybersecurity regulation.

Dr. Alex Kharlamov, from Birmingham Law School, and Professor Ganna Pogrebna, from Birmingham Business School, published their findings in Regulation & Governance.

They demonstrated that differences in cybersecurity regulation, measured by GCI, stem from cross-cultural differences in human values between countries. They also showed how cultural values mapped onto national commitments to regulate and govern cyber-security.

In China, where people are more risk taking than American and British web users across five categories of risk behaviours, regulation is far stricter than in the USA, which in turn is tighter than the UK.

Dr. Kharlamov and Professor Pogrebna showed that this corresponded to the countries' relative positions on the cultural value scale, with China closer to 'competitive' than the USA, which in turn is closer to this 'pole' than the UK.

Dr. Kharlamov commented: "We spend most of our lives in the digital domain and cyber-attacks not only lead to a significant financial damage, but also cause prolonged psychological harm - using social engineering techniques to trick people into doing something they otherwise would not want to do.

"Irresponsible use of digital technologies, such as the Cambridge Analytica case, cause harm to many citizens and tell us that Internet regulation is imminent. It is vital to understand the origins of human behaviour online, as well as values and behavioural patterns."

The five categories of risk behaviour - cyber-security, personal data, privacy, cyber-crime and negligence - each consisted of six behavioural examples such as:
  • Not using anti-virus or antimalware protection (cyber-security)
  • Providing private information, such as your email address, to obtain free WiFi in public places such as coffee shops, airports and train stations (personal data)
  • Linking multiple social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (Privacy)
  • Using insecure connections or free WiFi (Cyber-crime)
  • Letting web browsers remember passwords (Negligence)
Professor Ganna Pogrebna said: "Culture shapes the way we govern cyber spaces. Human values lie at the core of the human risk?taking behaviour in the digital space, which, in turn has a direct impact on the way in which digital domain is regulated.

"We talk about establishing overarching international online regulation, such as a new International Convention of Human Digital Rights. Yet, it seems the main reason why the international community fails to agree on such regulation has deep cultural underpinning."

GCI is produced by the International Telecommunications Union and assesses each country's engagement with cybersecurity regulatory processes in five areas: Legal, Technical, Organizational, Capacity Building, and Co-operation.
-end-
For more information, interviews and an embargoed copy of the research paper, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312 or t.moran@bham.ac.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

Notes to Editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world's top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • 'Using human values-based approach to understand cross-cultural commitment toward regulation and governance of cybersecurity' - Alexander Kharlamov and Ganna Pogrebna is published by Regulation & Governance. The research paper can be found at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/rego.12281 - please feel free to include this link in any online article.


University of Birmingham

Related Online Security Articles:

Eliminating infamous security threats
Speculative memory side-channel attacks like Meltdown and Spectre are security vulnerabilities in computers.
UBC study: Publicizing a firm's security levels may strengthen security over time
New research from the UBC Sauder School of Business has quantified the security levels of more than 1,200 Pan-Asian companies in order to determine whether increased awareness of one's security levels leads to improved defense levels against cybercrime.
Microtransactions can move popular online games closer to online gambling
An editorial published today by Addiction argues that some online games use in-game purchasing systems that disguise or withhold the long-term cost of microtransactions until the player is already financially and psychologically committed.
Peatland contributions to UK water security
Scientists from the University of Leeds have developed a new global index that identifies water supplied from peatlands as a significant source of drinking water for the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
Shh! Proven security for your secrets
Researchers show the security of their cipher based on chaos theory.
Online security apps focus on parental control, not teen self-regulation
Mobile apps designed to keep teens safe online are overwhelmingly focused on parental control, which may be only a short-term solution that hinders a teen's ability to learn coping strategies in the long run.
A library for food security
Researchers are uncovering the genome of cowpeas, also known as black-eyed peas, in response to challenging growing conditions and the need for food security.
Bring your own (security) disaster
Bring your own device (BYOD) to work is common practice these days.
Closing a malware security loophole
An add-on for antivirus software that can scan across a computer network and trap malicious activity missed by the system firewall is being developed by an international team.
Email security improving, but far from perfect
Email security helps protect some of our most sensitive data: password recovery confirmations, financial data, confidential correspondences, and more.
More Online Security News and Online Security Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#543 Give a Nerd a Gift
Yup, you guessed it... it's Science for the People's annual holiday episode that helps you figure out what sciency books and gifts to get that special nerd on your list. Or maybe you're looking to build up your reading list for the holiday break and a geeky Christmas sweater to wear to an upcoming party. Returning are pop-science power-readers John Dupuis and Joanne Manaster to dish on the best science books they read this past year. And Rachelle Saunders and Bethany Brookshire squee in delight over some truly delightful science-themed non-book objects for those whose bookshelves are already full. Since...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab