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Publication Detail
Usability and Trust in Information Systems
The need for people to protect themselves and their assets is as old as humankind. People's physical safety and their possessions have always been at risk from deliberate attack or accidental damage. The advance of information technology means that many individuals, as well as corporations, have an additional range of physical (equipment) and electronic (data) assets that are at risk. Furthermore, the increased number and types of interactions in cyberspace has enabled new forms of attack on people and their possessions. Consider grooming of minors in chat-rooms, or Nigerian email cons: minors were targeted by paedophiles before the creation of chat-rooms, and Nigerian criminals sent the same letters by physical mail or fax before there was email. But the technology has decreased the cost of many types of attacks, or the degree of risk for the attackers. At the same time, cyberspace is still new to many people, which means they do not understand risks, or recognise the signs of an attack, as readily as they might in the physical world. The IT industry has developed a plethora of security mechanisms, which could be used to mitigate risks or make attacks significantly more difficult. Currently, many people are either not aware of these mechanisms, or are unable or unwilling or to use them. Security experts have taken to portraying people as "the weakest link" in their efforts to deploy effective security [e.g. Schneier, 2000]. However, recent research has revealed at least some of the problem may be that security mechanisms are hard to use, or be ineffective. The review summarises current research on the usability of security mechanisms, and discusses options for increasing their usability and effectiveness.
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