Security

Revealing Hidden Context: Improving Mental Models of Personal Firewall Users

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Executive Summary

The Windows Vista personal firewall provides its diverse users with a basic interface that hides many operational details. However, concealing the impact of network context on the security state of the firewall may result in users developing an incorrect mental model of the protection provided by the firewall. The paper presents a study of participants' mental models of Vista Firewall (VF). The paper investigated changes to those mental models and their understanding of the firewall's settings after working with both the VF basic interface and the prototype. The prototype was designed to support development of a more contextually complete mental model through inclusion of network location and connection information.

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