The Nerd Factor: The Potential of S&P Adepts to Serve as a Social Resource in the User's Quest for More Secure and Privacy-Preserving Behavior


Nina Gerber, Technical University of Darmstadt; Karola Marky, Leibniz University Hannover and University of Glasgow


There are several ways to inform individuals about secure and privacy-preserving behavior in private social environments. Experts who are versed in security and privacy (S&P), who might be social peers, such as family members or friends, can provide advice or give recommendations. In this paper, we specifically investigate how S&P adepts inform peers in their private social environment about security and privacy. For this, we first conducted thirteen in-depth interviews with S&P adepts, revealing 1) their own S&P behavior and strategies in their personal lives, 2) obstacles in S&P conversations with peers, 3) situations in which S&P adepts intervene in the behavior of others, and 4) the perception of S&P adepts and stereotypes. Based on the interview results, we conducted three co-design workshop sessions with S&P adepts to explore options to better support S&P adepts informing their peers about secure and privacy-preserving behavior.

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@inproceedings {281264,
author = {Nina Gerber and Karola Marky},
title = {The Nerd Factor: The Potential of {S\&P} Adepts to Serve as a Social Resource in the User{\textquoteright}s Quest for More Secure and {Privacy-Preserving} Behavior},
booktitle = {Eighteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2022)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-30-4},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {57--76},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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