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Serena Chen

Serena Chen

Serena Chen is a Senior Interaction Designer at Chrome working at the intersection of Security and UX.
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Google Publications
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    Preview abstract A recent large-scale experiment conducted by Chrome has demonstrated that a "quieter" web permission prompt can reduce unwanted interruptions while only marginally affecting grant rates. However, the experiment and the partial roll-out were missing two important elements: (1) an effective and context-aware activation mechanism for such a quieter prompt, and (2) an analysis of user attitudes and sentiment towards such an intervention. In this paper, we address these two limitations by means of a novel ML-based activation mechanism -- and its real-world on-device deployment in Chrome -- and a large-scale user study with 13.1k participants from 156 countries. First, the telemetry-based results, computed on more than 20 million samples from Chrome users in-the-wild, indicate that the novel on-device ML-based approach is both extremely precise (>99% post-hoc precision) and has very high coverage (96% recall for notifications permission). Second, our large-scale, in-context user study shows that quieting is often perceived as helpful and does not cause high levels of unease for most respondents. View details
    Preview abstract We performed a large-scale online survey (n=1,880) to study the padlock icon, an established security indicator in web browsers that denotes connection security through HTTPS. In this paper, we evaluate users' understanding of the padlock icon, and how removing or replacing it might influence their expectations and decisions. We found that the majority of respondents (89%) had misconceptions about the padlock's meaning. While only a minority (23%-44%) referred to the padlock icon at all when asked to evaluate trustworthiness, these padlock-aware users reported that they would be deterred from a hypothetical shopping transaction when the padlock icon was absent. These users were reassured after seeing secondary UI surfaces (i.e., Chrome Page Info) where more verbose information about connection security was present. We conclude that the padlock icon, displayed by browsers in the address bar, is still misunderstood by many users. The padlock icon guarantees connection security, but is often perceived to indicate the general privacy, security, and trustworthiness of a website. We argue that communicating connection security precisely and clearly is likely to be more effective through secondary UI, where there is more surface area for content. We hope that this paper boosts the discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of showing passive security indicators in the browser UI. View details
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