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Dr Zarul Fitri Zaaba PhD

Research Student

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Enhancing Usability using Automated Security Interface Adaptation (ASIA)

Many users are now significantly dependent upon computer application. Whilst many
aspects are now used very successfully, an area in which usability difficulties continue
to be encountered is in relation to security. Thus can become particularly acute in
situations where users are required to interact and make decisions, and a key context
here is typically when they need to respond to security warnings.


The current implementation of security warnings can often be considered as an attempt
to offer a one size fits all solution. However, it can be argued that many
implementations are still lacking the ability to provide meaningful and effective
warnings. As such, this research focuses upon achieving a better understanding of the
elements that aid end-users in comprehending the warnings, the difficulties with the
current approaches, and the resulting requirements in order to improve the design and
implementation of such security dialogues.


In the early stage of research, a survey was undertaken to investigate perceptions of
security dialogues in practice, with a specific focus upon security warnings issued
within web browsers. This provided empirical evidence of end-users’ experiences, and
revealed notable difficulties in terms of their understanding and interpretation of the
security interactions.


Building upon this, the follow-up research investigated understanding of application
level security warnings in wider contexts, looking firstly at users’ interpretation of what
constitutes a security warning and then at their level of comprehension when related
warnings occurred. These results confirmed the need to improve the dialogues so that
the end-users are able to act appropriately, and consequently promoted the design and
prototype implementation of a novel architecture to improve security warnings, which
has been titled Automated Security Interface Adaptation (ASIA).


The ASIA approach aims to improve security warnings by tailoring the interaction more
closely to individual user needs. By automatically adapting the presentation to match
each user’s understanding and preferences, security warnings can be modified in ways
that enable users to better comprehend them, and thus make more informed security
decisions and choices.


A comparison of the ASIA-adapted interfaces compared to standard versions of
warnings revealed that the modified versions were better understood. As such, the
ASIA approach has significant potential to assist (and thereby protect) the end-user
community in their future interactions with security.

Dr Zarul Fitri Zaaba

Director of studies: Prof. Steven M Furnell
Other supervisors: Dr Paul S Haskell-Dowland

Conference papers

Assessing the usability of application level security warnings
Zaaba ZF, Furnell SM, Dowland PS, Stengel I
Eleventh Annual Security Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, US, 11-13 April, 2012
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End-User Perception and Usability of Information Security
Zaaba ZF, Furnell SM, Dowland PS
Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security & Assurance (HAISA 2011), London, UK, ISBN: 978-1-84102-284-0, pp97-107, 2011
Can be ordered on-line.
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2 Conference papers

2 publication(s) - all categories.