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Using websites effectively for sharing cyber security advice

Partner agencies: 
The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC)
Registration date: 
Wednesday, 6 November 2019

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) provides cyber security advice to help make Australia the safest place to connect online. BETA is working with the ACSC to test novel ways to present information about cyber security advice on websites in a way that best helps people and organisations to enact that advice.

Additional trial information

Registration date:

Trial 1: Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Trial 2: Monday, March 2, 2020

Intervention start and end date:

Trial 1: 26 August 2019 to 23 October 2019

Trial 2: 3rd March 2020 - 3rd April 2020

Ethics approval:

Trial 1: Bellberry Human Research Ethics Committee, BETA ETH 2019-001, 3 June 2019

Trial 2: Bellberry Human Research Ethics Committee, BETA ETH 2019-05, 11 September 2019

Experimental design including randomisation:

Trial 1:

Four-arm individually randomised survey experiment delivered as part of a survey collecting information on the cyber security behaviours of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The initial experimental design was piloted and interventions were refined based on this pilot.

Trial 2:

Two separate (consecutive) experiments each with a 2x3 factorial design. After being individually randomised, participants will see advice on two cyber security behaviours. Advice will be varied as a factorial design along two axes, relating to the advice messenger (3 levels) and the framing of consequences (2 levels).

Randomisation for the second experiment is blocked on randomisation for the first experiment.


Trial 1:

After completing a survey, participants were randomised to one of three treatment arms to receive cybersecurity information in one of three formats: plain text, infographic or interactive quiz.

Trial 2:

During a framed field experiment, participants will be exposed to cyber security advice relating to improving cyber-security behaviours surrounding strong passwords and timely updating of software and apps.

We will test different ways of framing this information by varying the messenger delivering the information and the framing of potential consequences of poor behaviour.

Control condition:

Trial 1: The control group do not receive cybersecurity information.

Trial 2: It is an attentional control; participants will see the same advice as those in the treatment condition, but without a messenger effect or financial consequences.


Trial 1:

  • Average number of correct answers on a test detecting whether 3 emails are genuine or fake.
  • Self-reported intention to update business software
  • Self-reported intention to backup business data

Trial 2:

  • Participants’ self-reported intentions to create strong and different passwords across their important accounts
  • Participants’ self-reported intentions to update software on their devices immediately after being prompted.
  • Participants cyber-security knowledge (password and update behaviours) at the time of exposure to our intervention
  • Participants’ cyber-security knowledge (password and update behaviours) at the time of our follow-up survey (2 weeks later)
  • Participants’ self-reported behaviours around password and update behaviours at the time of the follow-up survey (2 weeks later)

Expected sample size: 

Trial 1: 1,186 small and medium businesses assigned equally to each of the four arms.

Trial 2: 4500 recruited survey participants, representative of the Australian population.


Trial 1:  AEA registration

Trial 2: AEA registration