Information Security Motivation

Information security seems like more of a human problem than a technological one.  Certainly, we spend a lot of time thinking up new technological solutions to security problems while continuing to fail at the simple things like creating secure passwords.

We humans control the technology and create the data.  Therefore, I think it is important to understand how to motivate others to work with data and technology securely.  There are a lot of theories and strategies for motivation and many who have covered the topic in more detail and with more skill than I could, so I will just provide a list of motivational theories and best practices so that you can read about it yourself.  Please let me know if I have missed something important and tell me how you motivate others to be more secure.

Motivation theories:

  • With the Piece-Rate theory, people will produce more because they are paid for how much they produce.  This system uses money, as its primary and only motivator.
  • The Hawthorne study says that employees who are happy and satisfied with their work are motivated to do better.
  • Maslow created a hierarchy of needs that shows us that people are motivated to satisfy a need then they move up to the next level on his chart of needs.  Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory – people, are kept satisfied by motivation factors, and they are kept from being dissatisfied with hygiene factors.
  • Theory X states that people do not like to work so they must continuously be monitored to keep them working.
  • Theory Y says that people like to work if they have involvement or responsibility.
  • Theory Z – Provides a middle ground between type A and type J management practices.
  • Reinforcement Theory – behavior that is rewarded is likely to be repeated, whereas behavior that is punished is less likely to be repeated.
  • Equity Theory – People compare themselves with their peers and want to be treated like them.
  • Expectancy Theory – how much you want something and how likely it is that you will get it.
  • Goal Setting Theory – When managers and employees work together on goals, they are more likely to be achieved.

7 basic strategies for motivation:

  1. Positive reinforcement
  2. Effective discipline
  3. Treating people fairly
  4. Satisfying employee needs
  5. Setting work-related goals
  6. Restructuring jobs
  7. Basing rewards on job performance


About The Author


Eric Vanderburg

Eric Vanderburg is an author, thought leader, and consultant. He serves as the Vice President of Cybersecurity at TCDI and Vice Chairman of the board at TechMin. He is best known for his insight on cybersecurity, privacy, data protection, and storage. Eric is a continual learner who has earned over 40 technology and security certifications. He has a strong desire to share technology insights with the community. Eric is the author of several books and he frequently writes articles for magazines, journals, and other publications.

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