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Ninth International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security & Assurance (HAISA 2015)
Title: Mismorphism: a Semiotic Model of Computer Security Circumvention
Author(s): Sean Smith, Ross Koppel, Jim Blythe, Vijay Kothari
Keywords: Circumvention, authentication, authorization, usability.
Abstract: In real world domains, from healthcare to power to finance, computer systems are deployed with the intention of streamlining and improving the activities of human agents in the corresponding non-cyber worlds. However, talking to actual users (instead of just computer security experts) reveals endemic circumvention of the computer-embedded rules. Well-intentioned users, trying to get their jobs done, systematically work around security and other controls embedded in their IT systems. This paper reports on our work compiling a large corpus of such incidents and developing a model based on semiotic triads to examine security circumvention. This model suggests that mismorphisms—mappings that fail to preserve structure—lie at the heart of circumvention scenarios; differential perceptions and needs explain users’ actions. This paper supports this claim with empirical data from the corpus.
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