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Real Humans, Simulated Attacks: Usability Testing with Attack Scenarios

Date and Time
Monday, November 13, 2017 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
Distinguished Colloquium Series Speaker
Dr. Marshini Chetty
Professor Lorrie Faith Cranor
User studies are critical to understanding how users perceive and interact with security and privacy software and features. While it is important that users be able to configure and use security tools when they are not at risk, it is even more important that the tools continue to protect users during an attack. Conducting user studies in the presence of (simulated) risk is complicated. We would like to observe how users behave when they are actually at risk, but at the same time we cannot harm user study participants or subject them to increased risk. Often the risky situations we are interested in occur relatively infrequently in the real world, and thus can be difficult to observe in the wild. Researchers use a variety of strategies to overcome these challenges and place participants in situations where they will believe their security or privacy is at risk, without subjecting them to increases in actual harm.  In some studies, researchers recruit participants to perform real tasks not directly related to security so that they can observe how participants respond to simulated security-related prompts or cues that occur while users are focused on primary tasks. In other studies, researchers create a hypothetical scenario and try to get participants sufficiently engaged in it that they will be motivated to avoid simulated harm. Sometimes researchers have the opportunity to observe real, rather than simulated attacks, although these opportunities are usually difficult to come by. Researchers can monitor real world user behavior over long periods of time (in public or with permission of participants) and observe how users respond to risks that occur naturally, without researcher intervention. In this talk I will motivate the importance of security user studies and talk about a number of different user study approaches we have used at the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.
Lorrie Faith Cranor is a Professor of Computer Science and of Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University where she is director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory (CUPS). She is associate department head of the Engineering and Public Policy Department and co-director of the MSIT-Privacy Engineering masters program. In 2016 she served as Chief Technologist at the US Federal Trade Commission, working in the office of Chairwoman Ramirez. She is also a co-founder of Wombat Security Technologies, Inc, a security awareness training company. She has authored over 150 research papers on online privacy, usable security, and other topics. She has played a key role in building the usable privacy and security research community, having co-edited the seminal book Security and Usability (O'Reilly 2005) and founded the Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS). She also chaired the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) Specification Working Group at the W3C and authored the book Web Privacy with P3P (O'Reilly 2002). She has served on a number of boards, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation Board of Directors, and on the editorial boards of several journals. In her younger days she was honored as one of the top 100 innovators 35 or younger by Technology Review magazine. More recently she was elected to the ACM CHI Academy, named an ACM Fellow for her contributions to usable privacy and security research and education, and named an IEEE Fellow for her contributions to privacy engineering. She was previously a researcher at AT&T-Labs Research and taught in the Stern School of Business at New York University. She holds a doctorate in Engineering and Policy from Washington University in St. Louis. In 2012-13 she spent her sabbatical as a fellow in the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University where she worked on fiber arts projects that combined her interests in privacy and security, quilting, computers, and technology. She practices yoga, plays soccer, and runs after her three children.
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