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[liberationtech] Ideas for MSc research into HCI, security tools, and privacy.

Michael Rogers michael at
Sat Sep 22 08:41:42 PDT 2012

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Hi Bernard,

There are two areas where I'd love to see some research. The first is
the effect of provenance on perceptions of security: when deciding how
secure they believe a tool to be, how strongly are people influenced
by their knowledge of who created the tool, versus their knowledge of
how the tool works, or other factors?

The second area is how people reason about security boundaries - or to
put it another way, how people reason about the security properties of
data as it moves between devices, between locations and between

For example, if someone believes that Skype is in some sense "more
secure" than AIM, will that person treat files received over Skype
differently from files received over AIM? What concepts will they
refer to when explaining why they do or don't treat those files

Knowing more about how people reason about these issues would help
developers to design tools that actually have the properties people
think they have.


On 22/09/12 16:06, Bernard Tyers - ei8fdb wrote:
> Hi All,
> I am currently researching ideas for my masters in human computer
> systems thesis. I am a mobile telecoms engineer by profession, but
> am interested in HCI, tools that help maintain your security,
> secure communications, and privacy concerns.
> There have been some interesting threads here that have brought up
> some interesting questions for me: ∙ The thread discussing the
> usability of tools, such as cryptocat. How it was (originally) easy
> to use but may not have been as secure as possible. (NB: This is
> not a jab/poke at anybodies work, or an excuse to bring up any of
> the previous discussions about Cryptocat) ∙ The perception of tools
> which are easy to use but may not be secure, eg. Viber, whereas
> other tools are seen as secure, ∙ There are no shortcuts to being
> secure.
> I am developing some ideas at the moment, which are mainly around
> mobile, privacy, security, encryption tools, people's use of these
> tools (and why some people don't use them), how to present
> information such as  possible interference with Internet users
> traffic.
> I would be very interested to hear from anyone (on or off-list) who
> has any suggestions, "I'd love to know XYZ" questions, or projects
> that are currently on-going that may benefit from a MSc level
> research project into the intersecting topics mentioned above. I am
> open to discussing any ideas, so please let me know if you have an
> idea.
> thanks in advance, Bernard
> -------------------------------------- Bernard / bluboxthief /
> ei8fdb
> IO91XM /
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