Replication: No One Can Hack My Mind Revisiting a Study on Expert and Non-Expert Security Practices and Advice


A 2015 study by Iulia Ion, Rob Reeder, and Sunny Consolvo examined the self-reported security behavior of security experts and non-experts. They also analyzed what kind of security advice experts gave to non-experts and how realistic and effective they think typical advice is. Now, roughly four years later, we aimed to replicate and extend this study with a similar set of non-experts and a different set of experts. For the non-experts, we recruited 288 MTurk participants, just as Ion et al. did. We also recruited 75 mostly European security experts, in contrast to the mostly US sample from Ion et al. Our findings show that despite the different samples and the four years that have passed, the most common pieces of expert advice are mostly unchanged, with one notable exception. In addition, we did see a fair amount of fluctuation in the long tail of advice. Non-expert self-reported behavior, however, is unchanged, meaning that the gap between experts and non-experts seen in Ion et al.’s work is still just as prominent in our study. To extend the work, we also conducted an A/B study to get a better understanding of one of the key questions concerning experts’ recommendations, and we identified types of advice where research by the usable security community is most sorely needed.

Proceedings of Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security