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University of Maryland, College Park

Usable Security

University of Maryland, College Park via Coursera


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.


  • Week 1
    • Fundamentals of Human-Computer Interaction: users, usability, tasks, and cognitive models
  • Week 2
    • Design: design methodology, prototyping, cybersecurity case study
  • Week 3
    • Evaluation: usability studies, A/B testing, quantitative and qualitative evaluation, cybersecurity case study
  • Week 4
    • Strategies for Secure Interaction Design: authority, guidelines for interface design
  • Week 5
    • Usable Authentication: authentication mechanisms, biometrics, two-factor authentication
  • Week 6
    • Usable Privacy: privacy settings, personal data sharing, data inference
  • Final Exam

Taught by

Jennifer Golbeck



3.0 rating, based on 9 Class Central reviews

4.6 rating at Coursera based on 3221 ratings

Start your review of Usable Security

  • Aslam Karachiwala

    Aslam Karachiwala completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    The following is the review I posted on Coursera. === This was an extremely elementary and thus disappointing course. While the importance of "Usability" was rightly emphasized, the representation in terms of examples, case studies, etc. was simplistic....
  • Thomas D

    Thomas D completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    I took this course at the same time as "Software Security". I really enjoyed Software Security, but Usable Security was horrible. The instructor is a really bad teacher, and she doesn't seem to know anything about computer science, she is just a psychologist....
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This course looks into Security from a different perspective, one that many times developers or the people enforcing security polices on companies fail to see many times. It is not a technical course but will help you think more about the human factor that can break the same security policies you are trying to enforce and perceive things from the user perspective. Many people with security background would probably be able to answer the quizzes without taking the course or studying much, but overall I think it is good to have and encourage conversations like this openly. It is true that many types there is a disconnect between the users and the developers, and it is important to be aware of this and do what we can to close the gap.
  • Butch Landingin

    Butch Landingin is taking this course right now, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    While some students complained if this was really a security related course because it dealt primarily with the "human factors", I think it offered me a fresh perspective on security as not just about threats and malicious behavior, but also how legitimate users themselves compromise security (e.g. phishing) if the software developers do not consider the security requirements early in their design. Its fairly easy and highly relevant even for non-programmers such as UI designers and testers.
  • Alexander Gusev

    Alexander Gusev completed this course.

    I understand that taking it as a part of Cybersec Specialization can seem like a wrong idea if you are into technology, but you actually need to understand user psychology to effectively defend the user.
  • Patrick E.

    Patrick E. completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This course is interesting for people who are interested in human-computer interaction and usability aspects of security. However I was a bit disappointed with the level of depth of the course. Also there were a few errors in the course materials and there was no answer from course staff after asking about it in the forums.
  • Laura R

    Laura R completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

  • Niklas Laxström

    Niklas Laxström completed this course.

  • Oleksandr Kravchuk completed this course.

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