The Future of IT-Security: Usability, Empiricism and AI

  • Date: May 27, 2019
  • Time: 04:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Matthew Smith
  • University of Bonn, Computer Science
  • Location: MPI
  • Room: Basement

Usability problems are a major cause of many of today’s IT-security incidents. Security systems are often too complicated, time-consuming, and error prone. For more than a decade researchers in the domain of usable security (USEC) have attempted to combat these problems by conducting interdisciplinary research focusing on the root causes of the problems and on the creation of usable security mechanisms. While major improvements have been made, to date USEC research has focused almost entirely on the non-expert end-user. However, many of the most catastrophic security incidents were not caused by end-users, but by developers or administrators. Heartbleed and Shellshock were both caused by single developers yet had global consequences. The Sony hack in 2014 compromised an entire multi-national IT-infrastructure and stole over 100 TB of data, unnoticed. Fundamentally, every software vulnerability and misconfigured system is caused by developers or administrators making mistakes, but very little research has been done into the underlying causalities and possible mitigation strategies. In this talk we will explore how usability issues cause catastrophic security incidents, how empirical studies can help understand and fix them and I will give an outlook on how artificial intelligence (AI) can further support humans in building secure software systems.

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