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Towards the Usability Evaluation of Security APIs

LOCATION:  TEL, Auditorium 3 (20th floor), Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 10587 Berlin

Date/Time: 12.12.2016, 14:15-15:00

SPEAKER: Peter Leo Gorski (Technische Hochschule Köln)


Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are a vital link between software components as well as between software and developers. Security APIs deliver crucial functionalities for programmers who see themselves in the increasing need for integrating security services into their software products. The ignorant or incorrect use of Security APIs leads to critical security flaws, as has been revealed by recent security studies. One major reason for this is rooted in usability issues. API Usability research has been deriving recommendations for designing usable APIs in general. Facing the growing relevance of Security APIs, the question arises, whether the observed usability aspects in the general space are already sufficient enough for building usable Security APIs. The currently available findings in the API Usability domain are selective fragments only, though. This still emerging field has not produced a comprehensive model yet. In this talk, such a model that provides a consolidated view on the current research coverage of API Usability is presented. Furthermore, based on an analysis of relevant security studies, which give insights on usability problems developers had, when using Security APIs, a proposal of eleven specific usability characteristics relevant for Security APIs is introduced. These characteristics have to be followed up by usability studies in order to evaluate how Security APIs need to be designed in a usable way and which potential trade-offs have to be balanced.



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