Alice Meets Bob: A Comparative Usability Study of Wireless Device Pairing Methods for a "Two-User" Setting

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Executive Summary

When users want to establish wireless communication between/among their devices, the channel has to be bootstrapped first. To prevent any malicious control of or eavesdropping over the communication, the channel is desired to be authenticated and confidential. The process of setting up a secure communication channel between two previously unassociated devices is referred to as "Secure Device Pairing". When there is no prior security context, e.g., shared secrets, common key servers or public key certificates, device pairing requires user involvement into the process. The idea usually involves leveraging an auxiliary human-perceptible channel to authenticate the data exchanged over the insecure wireless channel.

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