Jun 25 2017

Mental Models

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Mental models suggest the way people reason about the world around them, as a combination of subjective perceptions and ideas [4]. With regards to online security, it has been shown that advanced users and security experts make safer online decisions and have stronger mental models of security [1-2]. A physical safety mental model is commonly used by non-technical computer users when assessing dangerous online situations [1]. This includes the typical security metaphors, such as ‘locks’ and ‘keys’. These are superficial, but we advocate an approach that builds a better understanding. Since visualizations build mental models, we intend for the interface to develop user mental models of browser security as a result of them interacting with our visualization. Most participants fail to notice the existence of the security indicator, or deem it unimportant in decision making [5]. If users had stronger mental models of certificates, they would more readily notice and properly interpret security indicators to make safer online decisions. To encourage users to seek out browser cues, we aim to educate about them the various levels of certification and how the information is displayed in browsers.