Khan NSF

Mohammad Khan, assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, was honored by the National Science Foundation with a CAREER Award. Khan, over five years, will receive nearly $600,000 for his project, “The Role of Emotion and Social Motives in Communicating Risk: Implications for User Behavior in the Cyber Security Context.” (uconn.edu photo)

The University of Connecticut June 7 announced that eight of its faculty members were recently honored by the National Science Foundation with Early Career Development, or CAREER, Awards, including assistant professor Mohammad Khan.

The five-year, NSF-wide grants support promising faculty early in their academic careers to serve as academic role models in research and education, with the goal of building a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

Khan, an Indian American assistant professor of computer science and engineering, received $559,786 over five years for his project, “The Role of Emotion and Social Motives in Communicating Risk: Implications for User Behavior in the Cyber Security Context.”

He will center his research on risk-mitigation of cyberattacks by designing effective risk communication strategies.

Khan noted in the UConn report that many cyberattacks are preventable if end users take precautionary measures, such as keeping systems updated, but they often fail to do so. His proposal builds upon theories of risk communication and self-determination to design new approaches to cybersecurity risk communication and training, it said.

The goals are to enable users to assess risks, costs, and benefits consistently and correctly, and to promote task-focused coping responses. By enabling non-expert users to make informed security decisions through raising cybersecurity risk awareness and self-efficacy development, this project directly addresses an increasingly serious threat to economic growth and national security, the report added.

This project also creates cybersecurity research and training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, and members from underrepresented population groups through outreach initiatives.

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