Innovation Inaction or In Action? The Role of User Experience in the Security and Privacy Design of Smart Home Cameras


George Chalhoub and Ivan Flechais, University of Oxford; Norbert Nthala, Michigan State University; Ruba Abu-Salma, University College London (UCL) & Inria


Smart homes are under attack. Threats can harm both the security of these homes and the privacy of their inhabitants. As a result, in addition to delivering pleasing and aesthetic devices, smart home product designers need to factor security and privacy into the design of their devices. Further, the need for user-centered security and privacy design is particularly important for such an environment, given that inhabitants are demographically-diverse (eg, age, gender, educational level) and have different skills and (dis)abilities.

Prior work has explored different usable security and privacy solutions for smart homes; however, the applicability of user experience (UX) principles to security and privacy design is under-explored. In this paper, we present a qualitative study to explore the development of smart home cameras manufactured by three companies. We conduct semi-structured interviews with 20 designers and their collaborators, and analyze these interviews using Grounded Theory. We find that UX was seen as helpful by our participants in fostering innovation in the design of privacy solutions. However, UX was not used or considered in the design of security solutions due to an explicit need for established, tried-and-tested solutions (ie, previous traditional security solutions that were seen as effective and reliable to fix certain design problems). Drawing from the findings of our study, we propose a model of UX factors influencing security and privacy design of smart home cameras. We also extract a set of recommendations to improve the security and privacy design of smart cameras. We finally outline several areas for future investigation.

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@inproceedings {255642,
author = {George Chalhoub and Ivan Flechais and Norbert Nthala and Ruba Abu-Salma},
title = {Innovation Inaction or In Action? The Role of User Experience in the Security and Privacy Design of Smart Home Cameras},
booktitle = {Sixteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2020)},
year = {2020},
isbn = {978-1-939133-16-8},
pages = {185--204},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug