Research in Privacy, Security Being Profiled at SOUPS Conference

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Above, from left to right: Professor Yang Wang, and students Jordan Hayes, Huichuan Xia, and Bryan Dosono.


The work of a School of Information Studies (iSchool) faculty member and three of his students will be highlighted at an annual conference for academic researchers and industry practitioners who are interested in creating usable privacy and security solutions.

Dr. Yang Wang, assistant professor at the iSchool, and three students who are working with him on research in that focus area, are among the featured presenters at the annual Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) conference later this month.

Professor Yang Wang

With a conference paper and three workshop papers being presented at the event, the iSchool is illustrating its high level of active research in this area, Wang said.

He is a co-organizing a workshop focused on inclusive privacy and security for the two-day program. In addition, together with students Bryan Dosono and Jordan Hayes, Wang will offer the conference presentation, “‘I’m Stuck!’: A Contextual Inquiry of People with Visual Impairment in Authentication.” The paper’s findings are focused on different aspects of designing usable security solutions for marginalized user populations and which are inclusive for people with disabilities and/or situational impairments.

Aside from his own presentation, the professor said he is “even more excited that our students can present our research at the conference. All three of them are in their early academic careers, so it is great opportunity for them to share their ideas, get feedback, and build connections.”

During the workshop, Dosono also will present on,“Assessing Online Privacy Safeguards Among Marginalized Internet Users in Public Libraries.” Another iSchool graduate student, Huichuan Xia, will be presenting the paper, “Towards Universal Authentication: Ability-Based Design, Crowdsourcing, and Privacy-Preserving Biometrics.” Jordan Hayes, of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who also works with Dr. Wang, will be speaking on the paper, “Don't Forget About Us: Lessons Learned from My Accessible Security Research Experience.”

The workshop will present information about the experiences and requirements of marginalized groups (people with various disability conditions, young and elderly people, and technology neophytes) and situational impairments (such as dark rooms, noisy locations, motion environments, stressful situations) when performing a task involving cognitive load, according to the conference program.

In practice, many privacy and security solutions are designed for and evaluated with a narrow range of users, and the solutions make assumptions about the environment and the user interaction capabilities. As the conference web site explains, the solutions are used by a wide variety of people and in varied situations, but marginalized groups and situational impairments are under-represented when designing privacy and security solutions. The workshop will address how solutions can be made more inclusive and how various disability conditions and situational impairments can be taken into consideration.

“These papers will raise awareness of the challenges faced by these users, but we also will propose new ideas in addressing these challenges,” Wang noted. “We hope that our work can inspire new designs and encourage industry adoption by companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, whose representatives are regular attendees of the SOUPS conference.”

Dosono said that he started the data collection process for his research last summer after completing a research practicum with Professor Wang. He conducted contextual inquiry interviews with 12 participants of varied visual and observed how they logged into their computer and online accounts. “Since I am interested in researching how issues of digital inclusion and consumer privacy intersect, this experience provided valuable insight that informs and shapes my overall research agenda as a doctoral student,” Dosono added.

Student presenter Huichuan Xia is excited and grateful to have a paper accepted for a workshop conference, noting that the proposal is “for a universal authentication system for users with different types of disabilities, and it is based on ability-based design principles, crowdsourcing users’ abilities and their behavioral patterns, and privacy-preserving biometrics.” Xia said the support received from Wang for idea development, paper structuring, and academic writing for the paper was instrumental to its acceptance, and that addressing the privacy concerns of people with disabilities “is very interesting, meaningful, and beneficial” work.

Wang is organizing the workshop along with Mike Just, of Heriot-Watt University, United Kingdom; Larry Koved, IBM Research, USA; and Karyn Moffatt, of McGill University in Canada.

Sponsors for the highly regarded international conference are USENIX and the Association of Computing Machinery’s SIGCHI, the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction. SIGCHI is the premier international society for professionals, academics and students who are interested in human-technology and human-computer interaction.