Why Security and Privacy Research Lies at the Centre of the Information Systems (IS) Artefact: Proposing a Bold Research Agenda
European Journal of Information Systems (EJIS), vol. 26(6) pp. 546–563
36 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017 Last revised: 27 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 30, 2017
In this essay, we outline some important concerns in the hope of improving the effectiveness of security and privacy research. We discuss the need to re-examine our understanding of information technology (IT) and information system (IS) artefacts and to expand the range of the latter to include those artificial phenomena that are crucial to information security and privacy research. We then briefly discuss some prevalent limitations in theory, methodology, and contributions that generally weaken security/privacy studies and jeopardise their chances of publication in a top IS journal. More importantly, we suggest remedies for these weaknesses, identifying specific improvements that can be made and offering a couple of illustrations of such improvements. In particular, we address the notion of loose re-contextualisation, using deterrence theory (DT) research as an example. We also provide an illustration of how the focus on intentions may have resulted in an underuse of powerful theories in security and privacy research, because such theories explain more than just intentions. We then outline three promising opportunities for IS research that should be particularly compelling to security and privacy researchers: online platforms, the Internet of things (IoT), and big data. All of these carry innate information security and privacy risks and vulnerabilities that can be addressed only by researching each link of the systems chain, that is, technologies–policies–processes–people–society–economy–legislature. We conclude by suggesting several specific opportunities for new research in these areas.
Keywords: Security, privacy, information technology (IT) artefact, information systems (IS) artefact, future research, online platforms, the Internet of things (IoT), big data, deterrence theory (DT), rational choice theory (RCT)
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