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Thread: Secure Interaction Design

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Secure Interaction Design

    A very interesting article courtesy of slashdot:

    Next week, ICICS 2002 will take place in Singapore. Out of 40 papers at the conference, there will be just one paper that looks at human factors. Though many people know that usability problems can render even the strongest security useless, the security community has only recently started paying attention to usability issues. More serious thinking about usability and security is desperately needed. The paper proposes ten interaction design principles. Maybe you'll find them obvious; maybe you'll disagree with them entirely. Great! Let's have a discussion.
    The paper, User Interaction Design for Secure Systems, proposes ten principles for Secure Interaction Design:

    Path of Least Resistance. The most natural way to do any task should also be the most secure way.

    Appropriate Boundaries. The interface should expose, and the system should enforce, distinctions between objects and between actions along boundaries that matter to the user.

    Explicit Authorization. A user's authorities must only be provided to other actors as a result of an explicit user action that is understood to imply granting.

    Visibility. The interface should allow the user to easily review any active actors and authority relationships that would affect security-relevant decisions.

    Revocability. The interface should allow the user to easily revoke authorities that the user has granted, wherever revocation is possible.

    Expected Ability. The interface must not give the user the impression that it is possible to do something that cannot actually be done.

    Trusted Path. The interface must provide an unspoofable and faithful communication channel between the user and any entity trusted to manipulate authorities on the user's behalf.

    Identifiability. The interface should enforce that distinct objects and distinct actions have unspoofably identifiable and distinguishable representations.

    Expressiveness. The interface should provide enough expressive power (a) to describe a safe security policy without undue difficulty; and (b) to allow users to express security policies in terms that fit their goals.

    Clarity. The effect of any security-relevant action must be clearly apparent to the user before the action is taken.
    Secure Interaction Design

    Here's a poster which may help in understanding these principles.

    So... what do you guys think of these principles? Do you think it would be a good idea to implement them in software to increase usability/security?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Interesting, very good to see somthing like this.

    I have a few problems with it, it only seems to be consered with projecting the user, as far as I can see there is no mention of protecting the web application it's self. I did notice that nearly all there screen shots are using IE, IE has a habit of makeing people belive that information that can't be seen by the user, does not exist or is secure as the user doesn't know about. This is a big problem in web application security.

    I feel that this method to security would have to be complemented(sp?) with other methods of harding your web applictaion.

    Path of Least Resistance. The most natural way to do any task should also be the most secure way.
    I think that this is one of the things that should happen, but it very hard to do. There is always a trade of between useability and security.

    Lets take a backing site that path of least Resistance could be that you just go to the site and it knows who you are, by some means(Cookie or something new). The number of secrity problems related to that are massive. So when you go to banking website, with mine I have to enter 3 different pices of information everytime I log in.

    But anyway, it is good to see a completly different view on security.

    So that was my $0.2 cents worth

    I\'m a SittingDuck, but the question is \"Is your web app a Sitting Duck?\"

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