Designing Effective Interfaces For ­Usable Privacy and Security

I often cringe when I hear highly technical engineers talk about people. I usually hear broad generalizations tossed about, like "people are lazy, that's why they can't use the system", or "people don't understand security". The worst is "people are just stupid". This lack of empathy is one of the main causes of poor user interface design today. With this in mind, I explore issues of user interface design for usable privacy and security, looking at the bigger picture of how to design useful, usable, and desirable interfaces in this space.

The Fallacy of Rankings

The list of the world's fastest computers will soon be announced. As always, we can expect the latest announcement to garner interest among the technological community, receive coverage in the popular press, and secure bragging rights for the organizations, vendors and countries involved. Though rankings (total orders) are intuitive and easily explained – a valuable attribute in today’s attention constrained society – they rarely capture the true complexity of multidimensional comparison. 

HPC: Making a Small Fortune

There is an old joke in the high-performance computing community that begins with a question, “How do you make a small fortune in high-performance computing?” There are several variations on the joke, but they all end with the same punch line, “Start with a large fortune and ship at least one generation of product. You will be left with a small fortune.” Forty years of experience, with companies large and small, has confirmed the sad truth of this statement. 

E-Government in Latin America

According to wikipedia: e-Government  is a diffused neologism used to refer to the use of information and communication technology to provide and improve government services, transactions and interactions with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government.
In February, President Obama pegged Melissa Hathaway of the National Security Council to do a 60-day review of the nation’s cybersecurity policy. Midway through the 60 days, her office called me at the National Science Foundation asking me to reach out to the academic community of researchers and educators for their input.

Building a Smarter Web

As more information moves to the Web, we need better tools to manage it. Today's tools focus on static Web pages. However, I claim that the Web is becoming a platform for applications, and tools that track user activity with these applications are needed.

Helping Younger People Protect Themselves from Security Attacks

One potentially disturbing trend that came out in a recent eCrime meeting is that younger people 18-24 years old seem to be more susceptible to phishing attacks, roughly by a factor of three. It's likely that this translates into other kinds of security attacks as well. At this point, our understanding of young people and security is still murky, and it will require more work to understand the problem so that we can devise appropriate solutions.

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