Microsoft researcher on ‘special class of user/adversary:’ children

‘Children represent a unique challenge to … the home and technology deployed within it.’

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Next week at the SOUPS 2013 security and privacy conference in England, Microsoft researcher Stuart Schechter will discuss his latest paper entitled: "The user IS the enemy, and (s)he keeps reaching for that bright shiny power button!"

The subtitle reads: "The security and privacy impacts of children and childhood on technology for the home."

And here's the abstract:

Children represent a unique challenge to the security and privacy considerations of the home and technology deployed within it. While these challenges posed by children have long been researched, there is a gaping chasm between the traditional approaches technologists apply to problems of security and privacy and the approaches used by those who deal with this adversary on a regular basis. Indeed, addressing adversarial threats from children via traditional approaches to computer and information security would be a recipe for disaster: it is rarely appropriate to remove a child's access to the home or its essential systems; children require flexibility; children are often threats to themselves; and children may use the home as a theater of conflict with each other.

Further, the goals of security and privacy must be adjusted to account for the needs of childhood development. A home with perfect security - one that prevented all inappropriate behavior or at least ensured that it was recorded so that the adversary could be held accountable - could severely stunt children's moral and personal growth. We discuss the challenges posed by children and childhood on technologies for the home, the philosophical gap between parenting and security technologists, and design approaches that technology designers could borrow when building systems to be deployed within homes containing this special class of user/adversary.

Conference attendees should find the paper, which you can read here (.pdf), insightful and amusing ... assuming their own little darlings haven't wrought too much technological havoc as of late.

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