Risk homeostasis in information security: New Security Paradigms Workshop

Karen Renaud, Merrill Warkentin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

5 Citations (Scopus)


The central premise behind risk homeostasis theory is that humans adapt their behaviors, based on external factors, to align with a personal risk tolerance level. In essence, this means that the safer or more secure they feel, the more likely it is that they will behave in a risky manner. If this effect exists, it serves to restrict the ability of risk mitigation techniques to effect improvements.The concept is hotly debated in the safety area. Some authors agree that the effect exists, but also point out that it is poorly understood and unreliably predicted. Other re-searchers consider the entire concept fallacious. It is important to gain clarity about whether the effect exists, and to gauge its impact if such evidence can indeed be found.In this paper we consider risk homeostasis in the context of information security. Similar to the safety area, information security could well be impaired if a risk homeostasis effect neutralizes the potential benefits of risk mitigation measures. If the risk homeostasis effect does indeed exist and does impact risk-related behaviors, people will simply elevate risky behaviors in response to feeling less vulnerable due to following security procedures and using protective technologies.Here we discuss, in particular, the challenges we face in confirming the existence and impact of the risk homeostasis effect in information security, especially in an era of ethical research practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNSPW 2017
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2017 New Security Paradigms Workshop
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781450363846
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2017
EventNew Security Paradigms Workshop NSPW 2017 - Chaminade Resort and Spa, Santa Cruz, United States
Duration: 1 Oct 20074 Oct 2017


WorkshopNew Security Paradigms Workshop NSPW 2017
Abbreviated titleNSPW 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Cruz


  • information security
  • risk homeostasis
  • risk mitigation techniques


Dive into the research topics of 'Risk homeostasis in information security: New Security Paradigms Workshop'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this