This report will hopefully pull together the research available with regard to this issue, and also identify what users are most at risk for virus attacks.
The research currently available also confirms that modern viruses are becoming more insidious and complex, with the potential to incur more damage to computers and data than in the past. Studies suggest that newer versions of viruses may escape detection using standard anti-viral software. This presents a new threat to computer users that must be addressed, hence it is more important than ever that effective methods of prevention and control are designed to prevent future data loss.
Design of the Study
The research study takes into consideration multiple factors when deciding the methodology. The history of viruses, positive and negative effects, organizational impacts, etc. will all be examined. These factors will be measured using a variety of techniques including field research that will involve collecting data on two user groups from a self administered questionnaire. The researcher will also compare data gathered from the literature review from the information gathered from the field research to identify what if any relationships exist between the two sets of information.
A quantitative research design will allow the researcher to distinguish what relationship exists between computer viruses and other dependent variables within a given population (Hopkins, 2000). The quantitative research design selected will be descriptive, establishing what association exists between the variables being examined. Independent variables to be examined will include user education, age, experience, sex, and job role. The dependent variable is the number of computer viruses attached to a specific user during a given time frame.
The main study will include a wide focus, in order to enable the researcher to estimate the effects of all variables likely to impact the dependent variable. For purposes of this study it may be more feasible to consider this a pilot study, as it will be difficult to survey a population sample size large enough to obtain the information necessary to complete a full descriptive analysis (Hopkins, 2000).
A pilot study will help the researcher identify the optimum sample size for a larger study, help determine the reliability of measurements necessary to complete the study and enable the researcher to verify whether the techniques adopted are feasible for a larger study (Hopkins, 2000).
For purposes of this study the researcher will concern himself with measuring the difference in virus rates among two different users groups. The researcher will adopt a longitudinal research design to determine whether training and education result in less virus attacks and user error during a specified period of time (six months). Statistical analysis will be used to compare the relationships that exist between dependent and independent variables. Cross sectional longitudinal analysis will help the researcher measure the validity and reliability of the test in question.
Population Sample/Research Instrument
For purposes of this pilot study the researcher will sample two computer user groups consisting of 30 members each from 2 large urban corporate centers located in the downtown central business district. Users will participate answer questions provided on a survey that will identify their experience and level of training, number of viruses they are exposed to over a specified period of time, the damage incurred by those viruses and measures taken to prevent security risks and future attacks on their system. The survey will also attempt to identify users knowledge about the potential threats computer viruses present.
Results and Findings
The researcher intends to find that many different reasons influence users lack of knowledge or ability to implement adequate security measures to protect their systems from computer virus attacks. The preliminary research reviewed suggests that some users fail to understand the importance of security measures, whereas others do not understand how to configure security software and hardware properly to prevent a serious virus attack (Williams, 2001).
For purposes of this study the researcher also intends to find that a direct relationship or correlation exists between user training, experience and susceptibility to viral attacks. There is some evidence suggesting that user error is largely to blame for many virus attacks, whether that user error is the result of improper use or improper installation of security protection programs (Williams, 2001).
The researcher also intends to find that several simple best practices measures can be adopted to prevent future attacks on systems. These may include but are not limited to proper analysis of user vulnerabilities, testing organizational security protection methods against business applications, applying adequate security patches, updating systems documentation, regular and ongoing or specific training and attention to security management programs (Williams, 2001).
Conclusions/Implications and Recommendations
The research conducted in this study is of vital importance to private end users and organizational enterprises alike. Studies suggest that computer users are just as exposed if not more exposed in recent years to increasingly virulent and damaging strains of computer viruses. Much of the evidence presented thus far suggests that multiple factors may increase a users vulnerability to attacks, including but not limited to inadequate training and knowledge of the threats computer viruses pose.
This pilot study has much larger implications for the technological environment as a whole. The data collected from this study will help affirm what measures are likely to reduce computer virus risk for users regardless of their experience and the settings they work in. It will also help identify what techniques researchers can adopt in the future to further explore computer viruses and their reaching effects on the population at large.
This study will provide the framework and groundwork for future analytical studies that can include much larger population sample sizes, encompassing hundreds and even thousands of users on a global level. Hopefully the results of this study and of any studies that will follow will significantly reduce the number of people negatively impacted by computer viruses now and in the future. This in turn may result in greater data protections, personal protections and security insurance as users continue to use the Web for increasingly sophisticated practices well into the future.
Hickman, J.R. (1995). "Viruses: New strains, new solutions." ABA Banking Journal,
Hopkins, W. (000). "Quantitative Research." Sports Science. 30, October…