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The psychology of computer insecurity: “bugs in the wetware"

The psychology of computer insecurity - “bugs in the wetware”

No matter how sophisticated a computer security system, the weak link in keeping data safe is human behaviour.

In the final lecture in the University of Auckland Gibbons Lecture Series, honorary research associate in the Department of Computer Science, Peter Gutmann, discusses the bugs in the “wetware” that is the human mind.

Dr Gutmann discusses why security warnings designed by computer engineers and developers are so often ignored by users and observes that fixing the problem may not be possible because it is based on behaviour that is also critical to our functioning as humans.

Dr Gutmann is an honorary research associate of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Auckland. His research is on the design and analysis of cryptographic security architectures and security usability. He helped write the popular PGP encryption package and has authored a number of papers and RFCs on security and encryption.

He is the author of the open source cryptlib security toolkit "Cryptographic Security Architecture: Design and Verification" (Springer, 2003), and also has an upcoming book "Engineering Security".

In his spare time he pokes holes in whatever security systems and mechanisms catch his attention and grumbles about the lack of consideration of human factors in designing security systems.

Lecture details: 6pm (for a 6.30pm start) Thursday 8 May, Room OGGB3/260-092, Level-0, Owen G Glenn Building, University of Auckland, Grafton Rd. Public parking is available in the basement of the Owen G Glenn Building at 12 Grafton Rd.

The Gibbons Public Lecture series is held annually and open to the public. Entry is free. The lectures in this series will be streamed live.

For more information go to:


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