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Secure Communications

Secure messaging, file sharing, email, and more are resistant to third-party surveillance. We take a human-centered approach to evaluate threat models and forms of surveillance

Essential Non-technical Skills for Working in Security

Building trustworthy technology requires more than technical expertise. Interaction design, service design, brand strategy, and writing are needed.

Your Software Can Help At-risk People, Too

Web browsers are utility software; they are designed to work for all people. Not only must their features meet the needs of average members of a population, they must also work for people with special needs. As Firefox says on its mobile accessibility features page, the browser has been "designed... (Read more)

Talking Across The Divide: Designing For More Than "It's Secure"

This list of questions about the security features of software can help UX professionals collaborate with security experts.

Meeting Users' Needs: The Necessary Is Not Sufficient

Building great software requires understanding what users want and need. If you’re building privacy-preserving software, this includes understanding the privacy threats that your users face. One of the participants in Ame’s NYC study.When Ame set out to talk to people in the New York City neighborhoods of Brownsville and Harlem... (Read more)

Developers Are People, Too: Supporting Cryptographic Agility

On Monday I had the pleasure of speaking at a Workshop on Cryptographic Agility and Interoperability held at the National Academies by the Forum on Cyber Resilience.The assembled group of academics, policy-makers, and practitioners touched on a variety of problems around the practical application of cryptography in production software. The... (Read more)

Tradeoffs In Seamlessness: The WhatsApp Update

This look at UX design decisions from WhatsApp’s 2016 end-to-end encryption update shares lessons for designers and developers.

Awkward! QR Scanning + LinkedIn Spam

Messaging with friends and colleagues is rewarding – but sharing contact information is awkward. Many people want to preserve their privacy by carefully controlling who gets their contact information, and choose not to broadcast their email address or phone number via a public Facebook or Twitter profile. Instead, they choose... (Read more)

Straight Talk: New Yorkers on Privacy

Our research on New Yorkers’ use of mobile messaging offers actionable insights into how to design secure communication tools for a mass audience.

Encryption is not for terrorists

Recent attacks by Daesh in Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and Paris have fanned the flames of an ongoing debate about software that is resistant to surveillance. It seems that some participants in that debate are trying to use these attacks as an excuse to drum up fear around end-to-end encryption. They... (Read more)

When Closed-Source Software Wins The Day

We prefer to use open-source software as a matter of principle. We believethat putting software code in the open is the best way for the public to buildtrust in it. You might find it curious, then, that we choose to foster communication andcommunity through a tool like Slack, which is... (Read more)

Catching Issues in Evolving Interfaces

Thinking of design as not only a product but a process can help complex products stay secure as they evolve.

Briar: Notes From An Expert Review

Researchers who want to evaluate software interfaces have a numberof tools at their disposal. One option for identifying obvious andsignificant problems is an expert review, which is often used to catchlow-hanging fruit before performing any kind of user testing. Expertreviews employ usability heuristics,which systematically explorepotential problems with a piece of... (Read more)

Kids’ Online Privacy: SOUPS Conference Keynote

Last week I went to the SOUPS conference in Ottawa. As a first-time attendee,it was a good opportunity to connect with some members of the academic usable-security community. One of thehighlights was keynote speaker Valerie Steeves.Steeves, sharing findings from her Young Canadians in aWired World research, reported results of an... (Read more)