Inequality in digital skills and the adoption of online safety behaviors

Matias Dodel, Gustavo Mesch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Cyber-safety behaviors are important in preventing the loss of an individual's digital assets and ensuring the safety of important daily online activities. Individuals’ cyber-safety is also critical for national cybersecurity. The issue is highly relevant for Israel, a country that relies on the digital capabilities of its workers for its major technology industries and is also often a target of cyberwarfare and cybercrime attacks. The purpose of this study is to identify the determinants of cyber-safety behavior. We investigate the role of age, gender and education in the use of safety-related digital skills and antivirus software. Using a 2014 survey of a national sample of Internet users in Israel (N = 1850), we found that age, gender, education and quality of access are associated with the level of users’ digital security skills. In addition, these skills and the frequency of conducting financial activities online are the main determinants of antivirus behaviors. Our results expand the understanding of cyber-safety by showing that social and digital disparities are reproduced in the use of measures to prevent online threats, putting the digitally disadvantaged at greater risk of becoming victims of online threats.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)712-728
    Number of pages17
    JournalInformation Communication and Society
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - 4 May 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


    • Digital inequalities
    • antivirus
    • cyber-safety
    • digital skills
    • preventive behaviors

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Communication
    • Library and Information Sciences


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