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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Usable Security by University of Maryland, College Park

3,135 ratings
763 reviews

About the Course

This course focuses on how to design and build secure systems with a human-centric focus. We will look at basic principles of human-computer interaction, and apply these insights to the design of secure systems with the goal of developing security measures that respect human performance and their goals within a system....

Top reviews


Jun 20, 2016

I like how in depth this gets. it explains it very well an in ways for people who are starting off in this field to get a basic understanding in exactly what we are learning. very well put together!


Jun 28, 2016

Despite not being very fond of areas such as human-computer interaction, I found this course to be well-presented and useful. Definitely a necessity for anyone planning on building secure software.

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By M. D

Jun 20, 2020

More emphasis on security would have been helpful. I understand that the design background is necessary, however, the first 2-3 weeks of material especially could have been grounded more in security and privacy applications and use cases. This got better as the course progressed.

The instructor was great; easy to understand but aimed at adults, materials were well prepared and organized. Supplemental readings and videos were mostly applicable, with the initial caveat above.

Quiz and final questions were well written for the level of complexity of the material covered. Writing good questions is not trivial, and based on the material in this course I am confident that Dr. Golbeck would write more challenging but *equally* cogent and coherent quiz and test questions. This course is better than others I have taken from Coursera on this very important point; Not difficulty, cogency.

In regards to biometric security systems, one item that was not covered was that if the system that _confirms_ your identity is compromised, your biometric profile could be shared on the dark web. If an account at service is compromised, but I follow good security practices, then the impact of that event is minimal. If the method of identification is biometric, that "password" will correctly identify me in any comparable system for the rest of my life. This is a significant and often overlooked consequence of these types of systems, and the specifics of the implementation (where is the biometric stored; how strongly is it encrypted etc.) make an enormous difference here.

Though I appreciate the need of making systems more usable, I was disappointed that there was no explicit discussion of adaptive security based on the threat model of the individual. For example; as a computer engineer with professional interest in security, I find the use of 2FA to be an *enhancement* of the usability of the system. I prefer services that provide the option of configuring a security interface that matches my threat model. As an advanced user, I would not be at all frustrated by having to find the advanced settings to configure - say a yubikey - preventing it from complicating a "normal" interface for a standard user. Protonmail is a good example here. They provide two keys, one for the server, one for the client, and they default to a mechanism that is marginally less secure but seamless for new users, but that lets those with more complex threat models (the PC way of saying "paranoid?") to opt for something more befitting the use case of a victim of domestic abuse, or reporter on a hostile government.

In the section on privacy - which on the whole was excellent - one question that should have been asked is "What motivates a company to opt for an obscure, hard to 'use' privacy policy?". This was certainly subtext, but I think this discussion should be stimulated even if no quiz or test question requires a student to take a particular position on the issue.

Though as a student of security (and interested in the certificate for all five courses) a more advanced course would have been welcome, I look forward to sharing the final Ted Talk lecture and some other materials with my less technical friends and my less security conscious colleagues.

Thanks Dr. Golbeck for the course!

-- md

By Byron B B J

Jul 31, 2016

Was a better course than the other reviewers tended to complain about. Taking the examples literally might not be the best actionable route to completing a lot of the quizzes and final exam, its mostly theory on how to build sustainable and efficient systems while at the same time ensuring the security of them has the least effect on the usability of the information system or applications in mind.

Some of the videos were somewhat off topic and seemed to not actually be related to what was on the quizzes at the end of the weeks topic. Some questions on quizzes weren't explained or only hinted at in the videos only to be the main topic in the next week. Other than that, a solid course.

By Francisco I M M

Dec 31, 2020

Agradezco mucho a la instructora Dra. Jenifer Golbeck, por el curso que esta bien explicado, he podido entender y comprender Fundamentos de la interacción humano-ordenador: usuarios, usabilidad, tareas y modelos cognitivos que me hacia mucha falta.

Para terminar este Curso lo elegí por que me gusta la ciberseguridad y pensé en estudiar un poco de ella, como informático era forma parte de mis sueños al menos saber lo poco de cada cosa que esta en relación con la ciencia de la información así para poder ayudar a mi país o al mundo en general, gracias una vez más felices fiestas y prospero año nuevo.