It came from the Internet : media diffusion of computer security threats

Patridge, Adam
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This study examined media coverage of computer security threats by print sources using diffusion of innovation as the theoretical background. A content analysis was done on 2322 articles from keyword searches on five computer security threat names. After limiting coverage to present-tense usage of threat names, 902 articles remained. The analysis was done based on the knowledge types presented in articles, the number of days spent covering threats, the distribution of coverage over that time span, the number of articles per single media sources, the distribution of knowledge types per week of coverage, and the placement of media sources within adopter categories. Across all threats, there articles were 35 percent awareness-knowledge, 42 percent how-to knowledge, and 23 percent principles-knowledge. Coverage spans ranged from 63 days to 567 days (with an average of 287 days). The distribution of coverage over time for all threats showed steep spikes coinciding with the release of an exploit to known vulnerabilities. The top 20 individual media sources were mostly wire services (75 percent, with 20 percent newspapers and five percent magazines); only 47 of the 176 individual sources had at least five articles across all threats. Knowledge types per week of coverage were varied across the threats. In the adopter categories, innovators were all wire services, early adopters were nine newspapers and 15 wire services, and early majority adopters were 37 newspapers, 16 wire services, and eleven magazines. Across all threats, there was a significant coverage spike that showed up following the release of an exploit to a vulnerability. Wire services were consistently part of the first sources to cover a threat and were often quite dense with repeated coverage compared to newspapers and magazines.