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WATCH - The Weakest Link

WATCH Series - Kelly Caine - Sept 15, 2016 - Noon - Room 110

September 15, 2016 12:00 PM  to 
September 15, 2016 1:00 PM
NSF Room 110

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Title: The Weakest Link

Presenter:  Kelly Caine, Clemson University


Scholars and professionals claim that users are the weakest link in the secure and trustworthy computing chain. Users find security protocols opaque and difficult to follow but at the same time have a deep and unmet desire for privacy and security. But what if not users, but designers, coders, managers, and system administrators are the weakest link? Indeed, the people who develop and administer systems often fail to understand the needs, practices, abilities, and desires of users. But understanding users is tough, especially in the security and privacy domain. In this talk I will discuss the key challenges in conducting user research that aims to make systems more secure, trustworthy, and privacy-enhancing. I will also suggest solutions, share existing resources on methods to understand users, and identify high impact areas for future work. 

Kelly Caine is a researcher and professor working at the intersection of people and technology. She directs the Humans and Technology Lab at Clemson University where she and her students advocate for users and create easy to use, useful technology that meets people’s needs. Dr. Caine enjoys teaching students to become scientists, and has designed and taught courses on research methods for understanding people and their relationship with technology at universities and in industry. She also leads research in human factors, human-centered computing, privacy, usable security, health informatics and human-computer interaction. She is the co-author of the book, “Understanding Your Users”, has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, chapters and papers, and regularly speaks to a wide variety of audiences about these topics. Prior to joining Clemson, she was Principal Research Scientist in the School of Computing at Indiana University and a UX researcher at Google. She holds degrees from the University of South Carolina (B.A.) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (M.S. and Ph.D.). Her book with Kathy Baxter and Catherine Courage, Understanding Your Users, can be found at

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NSF Related Organizations
Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering

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