Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2020

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Understanding User Perceptions of Security and Privacy for Group Chat: A Survey of Users in the US and UK

Secure messaging tools are an integral part of modern society. While there is a significant body of secure messaging research generally, there is a lack of information regarding users’ security and privacy perceptions and requirements for secure group chat. To address this gap, we conducted a survey of 996 participants in the US and UK. The results of our study show that group chat presents important security and privacy challenges, some of which are not present in one-to-one chat. For example, users need to be able to manage and monitor group membership, establish trust for new group members, and filter content that they share in different chat contexts. Similarly, we find that the sheer volume of notifications that occur in group chat makes it extremely likely that users ignore important security- or privacy- notifications. We also find that participants lack mechanisms for determining which tools are secure and instead rely on non-technical strategies for protecting their privacy—for example, self-filtering what they post and carefully tracking group membership. Based on these findings we provide recommendations on how to improve the security and usability of secure group chat.

Sean Oesch
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Ruba Abu-Salma
University College London (UCL)

Oumar Diallo
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Juliane Krämer
TU Darmstadt, Germany

James Simmons
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Justin Wu
Brigham Young University

Scott Ruoti
University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Paper (ACM DL)




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