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Usable Privacy and Security

Modern society depends on computer systems being highly reliable. However, in recent years, we have seen a growing number of severe privacy and security failures due to human factors issues, including: hard-to-use interfaces, incorrect mental models, and the overall burden of high security. 

The goal of Usable Privacy and Security is to make these systems more reliable in practice by designing, building, and evaluating systems that consider the human element, drawing on ideas from cognitive psychology, social psychology, interaction design, and more. We work closely with campus-wide initiatives such as CyLab in designing for and studying privacy and security.

Students who want to learn more about this HCI research area might be interested in the following HCII courses: 05-436/05-836: Usable Privacy and Security, 05-437/05-837: Ubiquitous Computing, 05-499 D/05-899 D: Special Topics: Building Technologies for the Resistance (fall 2024)

  • provides thousands of charts, providing visitors with an easy-to-understand roadmap of how apps collect and share data. In this example, the chart highlights TikTok’s data collection practices, revealing that the social media app collects network, device, and general data, which is then sent to four cloud services owned by a total of three companies.

    New website highlights thousands of Android apps’ data collection practices


    Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have launched a new website, offering Android users an easy and convenient way to see how their data is collected and shared....

  • screenshot of the Android Network Traces website with a table of tracing info about Meta apps

    Android Network Traces


    Smartphone apps collect and send a great deal of data about us to third-party websites, but what are they collecting and where are they sendin...

  • CyLab researchers will present two papers at CHI 2022 that examine Apple's privacy nutrition labels.

    CyLab Researchers Investigate Apple's Privacy Labels


    CyLab researchers will present two papers at the upcoming ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems that examine Apple's privacy nutrition labels....

  • A blue bar chart of the 15 most shared accounts, and percent of people sharing them

    Account sharing sheds light on social cybersecurity


    Visit the original blog post on the Center for Informed Democracy & Social - cybersecurity (IDeaS) website....

  • Social Cybersecurity


    Our research into the human factors of cybersecurity focuses on people as social actors whose security behaviors are influenced by their relat...