Prototyping Usable Privacy and Security Systems: Insights from Experts

Florian Mathis*, Kami E Vaniea, Mohamed Khamis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Iterative design, implementation, and evaluation of prototype systems is a common approach in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Usable Privacy and Security (USEC); however, research involving physical prototypes can be particularly challenging. We report on twelve interviews with established and nascent USEC researchers who prototype security and privacy-protecting systems and have published work in top-tier venues. Our interviewees range from professors to senior PhD candidates, and researchers from industry. We discussed their experiences conducting USEC research that involves prototyping, opinions on the challenges involved, and the ecological validity issues surrounding current evaluation approaches. We identify the challenges faced by researchers in this area such as the high costs of conducting field studies when evaluating hardware prototypes, the scarcity of open-source material, and the resistance to novel prototypes. We conclude with a discussion of how the USEC community currently supports researchers in overcoming these challenges and places to potentially improve support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalInternational Journal of Human-Computer Interaction
Early online date5 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Aug 2021


  • usable security and privacy
  • prototyping


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