Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT)


Information Technology

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Lei Li

Second Advisor

Dr. Svetlana Peltsverger

Third Advisor

Dr. Kyung Hun Jung


Social media plays an essential role in the modern society, enabling people to be better connected to each other and creating new opportunities for businesses. At the same time, social networking sites have become major targets for cyber-security attacks due to their massive user base. Many studies investigated the security vulnerabilities and privacy issues of social networking sites and made recommendations on how to mitigate security risks. Users are an integral part of any security mix. In this thesis, we explore the relationship between users’ security perceptions and their actual behavior on social networking sites. Protection motivation theory (PMT), initially developed to study fear appeals, has been widely used to examine people’s behavior in information security domains. We propose that PMT theory can also be adapted to explain and predict social media users’ behaviors that have security implications. We use a web-based survey to measure users’ security awareness on social networking sites and collect data on their actual behavior.