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I Do and I Understand. Not Yet True for Security APIs. So Sad

  • Usable security puts the users into the center of cyber security developments. Software developers are a very specific user group in this respect, since their points of contact with security are application programming interfaces (APIs). In contrast to APIs providing functionalities of other domains than security, security APIs are not approachable by habitual means. Learning by doing exploration exercises is not well supported. Reasons for this range from missing documentation, tutorials and examples to lacking tools and impenetrable APIs, that makes this complex matter accessible. In this paper we study what abstraction level of security APIs is more suitable to meet common developers’ needs and expectations. For this purpose, we firstly define the term security API. Following this definition, we introduce a classification of security APIs according to their abstraction level. We then adopted this classification in two studies. In one we gathered the current coverage of the distinct classes by the standard set of security functionality provided by popular software development kits. The other study has been an online questionnaire in which we asked 55 software developers about their experiences and opinion in respect of integrating security mechanisms into their coding projects. Our findings emphasize that the right abstraction level of a security API is one important aspect to consider in usable security API design that has not been addressed much so far.

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Document Type:Conference Object
Author:Luigi Lo Iacono, Peter Leo Gorski
Parent Title (English):2nd European Workshop on Usable Security (EuroUSEC 2017), April 29, 2017, Paris, France
Publisher:Internet Society
Place of publication:Reston, VA
Publication year:2017
Departments, institutes and facilities:Institut für Cyber Security & Privacy (ICSP)
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):0 Informatik, Informationswissenschaft, allgemeine Werke / 00 Informatik, Wissen, Systeme / 005 Computerprogrammierung, Programme, Daten
Entry in this database:2021/06/30