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Building website certificate mental models

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Expert security users make safer online decisions. However, average users do not have mental models for browser security and web certificates. Thus, they may make unsafe decisions online, putting their sensitive information at risk. Users can learn about browser security and their mental models can be developed using information visualization. We introduce an interactive interface designed for building mental models of web certificates for the average user, through visualization and interaction. This model was implemented to facilitate learning with a Mental Model Builder (MMB). The interface underwent a cognitive walkthrough usability inspection to evaluate the learnability and efficacy of the program. We found that there were unique and useful elements to our visualization of browser certificates. Thus, a 2nd generation interface was created and user-tested. Results show that it was successful in building mental models, and users made safer decisions about trusting websites.




Stojmenović, M., Oyelowo, T., Tkaczyk, A., & Biddle, R. (2018). Building website certificate mental models. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) (Vol. 10809 LNCS, pp. 242–254). Springer Verlag.

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