Perceptions of beauty in security ceremonies

Giampaolo Bella*, Jacques Ophoff, Karen Renaud, Diego Sempreboni, Luca Vigano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

When we use secure computer systems, we engage with carefully orchestrated and ordered interactions called “security ceremonies”, all of which exist to assure security. A great deal of attention has been paid to improving the usability of these ceremonies over the last two decades, to make them easier for end-users to engage with. Yet, usability improvements do not seem to have endeared end users to ceremonies. As a consequence, human actors might subvert the ceremony’s processes or avoid engaging with it. Here, we consider whether beautification could be one way of making ceremonies more appealing. To explore beautification in this context, we carried out three studies. Study 1 surveyed 250 participants to derive a wide range of potential dimensions of “beautiful ceremonies”. These statements were sorted into dominant themes and converted into statements, which fed into the second study, with 309 respondents, to reveal the dominant dimensions constituting beauty. Study 3 asked 41 participants to carry out a Q-sort, which revealed the ways that people combine the identified dimensions when characterising security ceremonies as “beautiful”. These studies have allowed us to pin down the perceived dimensions of beauty in the context of security ceremonies, and also to understand how people combine these dimensions in different ways in judging security ceremonies to be beautiful, confirming the old adage of beauty being “in the eye of the beholder”. We conclude by highlighting the constraints imposed by the overarching requirement for security to be maintained in the face of any usability improvements and beautification endeavours.
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
Number of pages34
JournalPhilosophy and Technology
Volume35
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2022

Keywords

  • Security ceremonies
  • Beauty
  • Perception
  • Human-centred security

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