BITlab: Behavior Information Technology

404 Wilson Rd. Room 249
Communication Arts & Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824


By: Rick Wash


Student - Kathryn Hoban
Mentor(s): - Emilee Rader
Timeslot: 9:30 AM

Abstract: Computer users get their information on computer security from a wide variety of sources. In this study we examined three different sources of information available to users. We collected security advice from sources of varying levels of expertise: hearsay, newspapers, and educational documents. We are currently analyzing data from 301 local survey respondents, 1062 news articles from across the world, and 519 education documents from various universities, companies, and government institutions. This poster will showcase the topics, tactics, format, and user reaction to these sources and elaborate on the overarching themes among them.


Coordinator - Timothy Hasselbeck
Group Members: - Jallal Elhazzat
Mentor(s): - Richard Wash, Kami Vaniea, Emilee Rader
Timeslot: 9:30 AM

Abstract: What security-related decisions does the average computer user make on a day-to-day basis? We are building a system that can gauge the adequacy of an average user’s security habits and judge what factors influence a user’s security behavior. Collecting accurate research data over such a broad scope is difficult to achieve, but collecting usable data is much harder. This difficulty stems from our concern for context. It isn’t enough for us to learn that user A visited web-page B on browser C, or turned off her firewall at some point. We collect the information necessary to show how a user got to that web-page (through an email link, a search engine, a pop-up, an address bar) and under what circumstances a user disabled their firewall (was she connected to the internet, was she on a home network, was she in Starbucks). The end result of a user action is often easy enough for us to obtain. Our challenge lies in establishing context for each situation.


Coordinator - Paul Rose
Mentor(s): - Emilee Rader
Timeslot: 9:30 AM

Abstract: In a world that increasingly relies on the Internet, information privacy is a topic of concern for many. As people explore the Internet, their ‘private’ information and search behavior is constantly tracked and recorded by companies like Google and Facebook, often without the users’ knowledge of it happening. People also face increasing risk of private information being visible through social media. Our research seeks to understand whether or not people are aware of these privacy issues, whether or not they are concerned about them, and why. To understand why, we analyzed survey responses in which participants answered open-ended questions about what made them concerned or not concerned for their privacy in various given scenarios. Specifically, we are looking at whether users think more about informational privacy, when companies and websites collect data, versus social privacy, when other people, friends, or employers see personal information. To do this, we devised a coding scheme to apply to all the survey responses. We also asked respondents how they would advise others in these various given scenarios. We plan to code these responses, and see how advice may interact with types of concern. Better understanding the way internet users understand and think about privacy issues will help us identify what actions and behaviors people consider to be intrusive versus harmless. It will also teach us how different sources of privacy concern affect level of concern and subsequent user behavior. This will help design better online systems while keeping users’ private information safe.