COMPM061 - People and Security

This database contains the 2017-18 versions of syllabuses.

Note: Whilst every effort is made to keep the syllabus and assessment records correct, the precise details must be checked with the lecturer(s).

Code COMPM061 (Also taught as COMPGA10)
Year 4 (Masters)
Prerequisites None
Term 1
Taught By

Simon Parkin (100%)
Angela Sasse [Module lead]

Aims Students will be able to specify usability criteria that a security mechanism has to meet to be workable for end-user groups and work contexts; - know the strengths and weaknesses of particular security mechanisms in practice, and hence be able to choose and configure mechanisms for best performance in a given organisational context; and - be able to specify accompanying measures (policies, training, monitoring and ensuring compliance) that a user organisation needs to implement to ensure long-term security in practice.
Learning Outcomes Students will be able to apply their knowledge of human factors and behavioural economics to specify and implement workable and effective security solutions, and manage security behaviour.


Understanding Human Behaviour in Security

  • Systems thinking and design
  • Usability: Users, tasks and context
  • Performance and Workload
  • Productivity and performance vs risk and security


  • Humans and Risk
  • Risk Biases and Decision-making
  • Friction and the Compliance Budget


  • Authentication tasks: enrolment, verification, recovery
  • Knowledge-based authentication: Passwords, -phrases, PINs, graphical Authentication
  • Token-based authentication
  • Biometric authentication: physical and behavioural
  • Continuous authentication via devices, sensors, and biometrics
  • Payment systems and transaction authentication

Access control

  • Different access control models, organisational impact and user workload

Attacks and attackers (and how to counter them)

  • Types of attacks (Guessing, observation, capture and coercion)
  • Types of attackers: motivation, resources risk propensity
  • Social engineering attacks
  • Insider attacks


  • Online identity vs identity in the physical world
  • National identity vs socially constructed systems
  • Digital footprints, shadows and superidentities
  • Identity as currency


  • Data protection and user perception
  • Delivering privacy: Privacy by Design, the PST model
  • Surveillance, dataveillance and sousveillance online and in the physical world (CCTV)


  • Model of trust in online interaction
  • Game theory: incentivising trustworthy behaviour
  • Reputation systems and their application in online systems

Influencing user behaviour

  • Security awareness, education and training
  • User interface design and influencing techniques
  • Values, attitudes, security culture and security behaviour
  • Responsibility and communication

Method of Instruction

Lecture presentations and classroom-based coursework


The course has the following assessment components:

  • Written Examination (2.5 hours, 75%)
  • Coursework (25%)

To pass this course, students must:

  • Achieve a mark of 50% or above when all sections are combined.
  • Obtain a minimum mark of 40% in each component worth ? 30% of the module as a whole.


    Reading list available via the UCL Library catalogue.