. "5 Overarching Challenges to Advancing Research in Usability, Security, and Privacy." Toward Better Usability, Security, and Privacy of Information Technology: Report of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010.
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Toward Better Usability, Security, and Privacy of Information Technology: Report of a Workshop
related to privacy, despite the technical and policy links between the two concerns. Some may immediately associate privacy issues with the term “security,” but this is not universally true. Agreeing to a common definition or term that was inclusive of the concept of privacy proved challenging throughout the workshop.
LIMITED ACCESS TO DATA
Several workshop participants cited the need for more and better empirical data and commented on the difficulties that they faced in gaining access to such data. For example, data on industry or government computer system security breaches are generally unavailable—corporations are hesitant to disclose this information owing to the potential threat to reputation, stock price, and ongoing business; and information about breaches to government computer systems is frequently treated as sensitive or classified. Even data on matters less touchy than security breaches cannot be readily obtained. Participants noted, for example, the difficulty in obtaining data on the productivity impacts of security measures. Even when researchers are able to obtain data, nondisclosure agreements may restrict their ability to publish their results. If researchers do gain the ability to work with corporate data, an additional challenge is that of conducting research in a way that enables repeatability.
SCARCENESS OF EXPERTISE AND UNFAMILIARITYWITH EACH OTHER’S WORK AT THE INTERSECTIONOF USABILITY, SECURITY, AND PRIVACY
Many of the workshop participants commented that working in the area of usability, security, and privacy is especially challenging because of the need for researchers who are familiar with both computer security and human-computer interaction. These were, at least until recently, considered distinct disciplines—most security researchers have traditionally ignored usability issues, and vice versa (and likewise for usability and privacy).
One consequence is unfamiliarity with each other’s work. Throughout the workshop, there were frequent instances in which either a computer security or a usability expert would identify a research question outside his or her area of expertise, only to receive immediate feedback from relevant experts that this particular question had already been addressed. “I did not know that that research existed” was a common lament heard at the workshop. Although this immediate feedback was useful to the workshop participants, it also suggests there may be a significant lack of knowledge about usability-related work among security researchers and