SOUPS 2006

July 12-14, 2006
Pittsburgh, PA

Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security

Security User Studies Workshop

Call for Participation

Researchers and designers of security systems are increasingly coming to the understanding that both usability and security need to be evaluated with carefully-designed user studies. But security user studies have special requirements that make them harder to design.

  • How can users be motivated to defend their security in a study without putting undue emphasis on security?
  • How should attack studies be designed so that they are faithful to the fact that in the real world, security is almost never the user's primary goal?
  • How do we choose what the security goals are, and therefore what security aspects to test?
  • How can we balance ethical concerns for protecting subjects with the need to make realistic attacks that reveal just how secure they are?

The Security User Studies workshop will be a one day workshop at SOUPS 2006, on the design, implementation and challenges of conducting Security User Studies. The workshop will be an opportunity for researchers to share experiences, materials, and ideas, and for newcomers to learn about problems and best practices.

We seek two kinds of submissions to the workshop (described in more detail below):

  • "construction kits": compilations of security user study materials
  • user study proposals: short descriptions of past or future security user studies

Deadline for submissions: May 5, 2006

Workshop date: July 12, 2006

Construction Kits

Every user study involves a variety of materials that are rarely included in published articles about the study, making it harder to reproduce the results and preventing researchers from building on each others' efforts.

We are soliciting these kinds of materials -- "construction kits" for reproducing security user studies -- for compilation and dissemination in connection with the workshop. Construction kits might include:

  • scenarios
  • briefings
  • questionnaires
  • code
  • tasks
  • measurement techniques and instrumentation design
  • advertisements and recruiting posters
  • methods of sampling user populations
  • references to useful third-party tools
  • Institutional Review Board (IRB) applications

Submissions should include an overview of the materials (i.e., a "README" file). Preference will be given to materials related to a published or in-submission user study, which should be cited in the overview.

The construction kits will be included in the SOUPS 2006 electronic proceedings (web site and DVD), but will not published in the ACM Digital Library. They will not be peer-reviewed. The kits will not be considered submitted for publication, and may be simultaneously submitted to other workshops or conferences.

Authors submitting user studies to the refereed SOUPS papers track are encouraged to submit their materials to this workshop. Note, however, that the refereed paper submission must stand on its own, and will be judged independently of the workshop materials.

Submitters of construction kits will be invited to give short talks about the experience of running the study.

User Study Proposals

From all interested workshop participants, we are soliciting short descriptions of past or future security user studies. Proposals may be serious or outlandish, realistic or hypothetical.

These descriptions will be compiled and distributed to all workshop attendees for a mock review session during the workshop. The review session will discuss study design, possible value of the research findings, and any ethical concerns that the research might raise. It is expected that submitters of proposals will benefit from the discussion and the generation of new ideas.

User study proposals should be 1-2 pages long, PDF format. The PDF submission should be anonymized -- omitting experimenter names and institutions. During the workshop, attendees will have the option of identifying a proposal under discussion as theirs or having the proposal remain anonymous.

User study proposals will NOT be included in the SOUPS 2006 proceedings and will only be distributed in paper form at the workshop.

Construction kits and user study proposals should be submitted to the organizers by email (addresses below) no later than May 5, 2006.


Simson Garfinkel
simsong AT

Rob Miller
rcm AT


SOUPS is sponsored by Carnegie Mellon CyLab.