Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Business Administration

Major Professor

Jung Chul Park, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Loran Jarrett, D.B.A.

Committee Member

Joann Quinn, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul Solomon, Ph.D.


Adapted Thematic Analysis, Cybersecurity, Information Security Management, Online Interactions, Online Threats, Privacy


Cybersecurity threats and compromises have been at the epicenter of media attention; their risk and effect on people’s digital identity is something not to be taken lightly. Though cyber threats have affected a great number of people in all age groups, this study focuses on 55 to 75-year-olds, as this age group is close to retirement or already retired. Therefore, a notable compromise impacting their digital identity can have a major impact on their life.

To help guide this study, the following research question was formulated, “What are the risk perceptions of individuals, between the ages of 55 and 75 with no IT background, pertaining to their digital identity?” The literature review helped identify seven themes that served as a base to generate a series of qualitative interview questions. Twenty interviews were conducted, transcribed, and coded following the Adapted Thematic Analysis framework, which resulted in four themes that answered the research question.

The themes relevant to the research question were: People accept the risk when it affects their convenience, people are concerned that companies are not being transparent with regards to being good custodians of their digital identity, people are aware of the availability of tools and training to help manage the risks, people want more transparency and control over their digital identity to help ease their concerns of the risks.

The findings from the literature review and the interviews led to a series of interpretations that validated the gaps found in the literature review. Notably, the quarantine caused by the unexpected event (i.e.: COVID-19 pandemic) forced people to an all-time high adoption of the internet. People were aware of the risks pertaining to their digital identity, but their level of awareness varied. This gap developed the need for a personal risk assessment framework and the need for a benchmark of user-friendly best practices to help mitigate the risks. The increased adoption of new technologies similar to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and distributed ledger technologies like blockchain will help in creating more of a transparent ecosystem to interact online as well as reduce human intervention in reacting to and mitigating cybersecurity risks affecting digital identity.