This interdisciplinary project studies the nature of the risks inherent in normal activity on the Internet, the perception of those risks, the judgment about trade-offs in behavior and the design of a personalized agent that can alert users to risky behavior and help to protect them. The key insight is that adequate security and privacy protection requires the concerted efforts of both the computer and the user. The interdisciplinary research team combines expertise from psychology, computer security and artificial intelligence to propose MIPA (MIxed Initiative Protective Agent) - a semi-autonomous, intelligent and personalized agent approach that leverages psychological studies of what users want/need and what security and privacy risks are imminent. The techniques will be developed for and tested on a real problem that challenges the current state of the art in artificial intelligence, security and user models.

As it is becoming increasingly difficult for users to protect themselves and understand the risks they are taking on the Internet, this project has the potential to positively impact system design to effectively enhance user security. Focusing on home computer users (college students and senior citizens), the proposed research will investigate how they perceive, use and can best be served by Internet application software. Results could improve the experiences of these users as well as significantly advance techniques in intelligent agents and computer security. Additionally, because home users and machines tend to be the weak link in security, protecting them may better protect others.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0905232. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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