Quality and Inequity in Digital Security Education

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Few users have a formal, authoritative introduction to digital security. Rather, digital security skills are often learned haphazardly, as users filter through an overwhelming quantity of security education from a multitude of sources, hoping they're implementing the right set of behaviors that will keep them safe. In this thesis, I use computational, interview, and survey methods to investigate how users learn digital security behaviors, how security education impacts security outcomes, and how inequity in security education can create a digital divide. As a first step toward remedying this divide, I conduct a large-scale measurement of the quality of the digital security education content (i.e., security advice) that is available to users through one of their most cited sources of education: the Internet. The results of this evaluation suggest a security education ecosystem in crisis: security experts are unable or unwilling to narrow down which behaviors are most important for users' security, leaving end-users -- especially those with the least resources -- to attempt to implement the hundreds of security behaviors advised by educational materials.