Computer Games as a Pedagogical Tool for Creating Cyber Security Awareness
Keywords:Information security, cyber-attacks, awareness raising, serious games, online quizzes
Cyberattacks are increasing world-wide, both on corporate networks and public institutions network. During 2022 hackers were widening their aim to target business collaboration tools such as Slack, Teams, OneDrive, and Google Drive with phishing exploits, making for a rich harvest of sensitive data given that most organizations’ employees continued to work remotely. In the later years we have also seen academic institutions becoming more frequent targets for both cybercriminals and state sponsored hackers. In 2022 the education/research sector was most attacked industry globally, seeing a 43% increase compared to 2021, with an average of 2,314 attacks per organisation every week. Schools and universities have the unique challenge of dealing with children or young adults, many of which use their own devices, work from shared locations, and often connect to public Wi-Fi without thinking of the security concerns. Additionally, Russia’s war on Ukraine has led to an increase in spear-phishing activity targeting educational institutions in NATO countries. This situation calls attention to the need for awareness raising about personal cyber security. In Norway, Nord University is one of a few universities with specific focus on security and preparedness, including cyber security awareness. The university has two information security courses: one belonging to furthering education and one within the MBA-study program in Security and Preparedness Management. This paper examines the question whether serious games and online quizzes can create heighten cyber security awareness and motivate individual students to change their cyber security behaviour. The paper reports on the findings based on written reflection notes from students belonging to both courses. The technique of examination and interpretation applied to the data was qualitative thematic content analysis supported by computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software NVivo. Theoretical analysis was guided by social constructionist perspective on knowledge creation. While many advantages of the use of online quizzes and computer games were specified by students, challenges were identified as well. However, the findings show that the use of serious games and online quizzes can be an efficient approach to raising security awareness among participating students.