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Human-Centered Security

How to Design Systems That Are Both Safe and Usable

By Heidi Trost

To be published: 2024

Creating great user experiences demands balancing user and stakeholder goals, limited resources, and rapidly-changing technology. Information security introduces a new, significant wrinkle for designers: managing security risk. The risk is significant. That’s because we not only rely on technology to run critical systems, we have invited technology to coexist with us in the physical world. We’ve put computers into cars, machinery, and even medical devices. In these scenarios, a security breach goes beyond stolen credentials or exposed private information—it could mean the difference between life and death. While security used to be thought of as the domain of engineers and security experts, designers play an increasingly critical role: thoughtfully designing products and experiences that maximize user-friendliness while still keeping people safe.

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Creating great user experiences demands balancing user and stakeholder goals, limited resources, and rapidly-changing technology. Information security introduces a new, significant wrinkle for designers: managing security risk. The risk is significant. That’s because we not only rely on technology to run critical systems, we have invited technology to coexist with us in the physical world. We’ve put computers into cars, machinery, and even medical devices. In these scenarios, a security breach goes beyond stolen credentials or exposed private information—it could mean the difference between life and death. While security used to be thought of as the domain of engineers and security experts, designers play an increasingly critical role: thoughtfully designing products and experiences that maximize user-friendliness while still keeping people safe.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Security user experience challenges
Chapter 2: Leverage iterative design
Chapter 3: Channel your inner risk analyst
Chapter 4: Build risk analysis into user research
Chapter 5: Humanize security policies
Chapter 6: Encourage secure behaviors
Chapter 7: Design access
Chapter 8: Combat social engineering
Chapter 9: Build security into onboarding
Chapter 10: Help technical users manage security
Chapter 11: Get started