Melanie Volkamer, professor of computer science
Melanie Volkamer studied Computer Science at Saarland University in Germany. Her focus was on security and cryptography. Nowadays, her research concentrates on human factors in security and privacy. She started working at Karlstad University in April 2015 and was promoted in December 2015.
During her PhD, Melanie Volkamer focused on security evaluation approaches for electronic voting systems. Nowadays she is still conducting research on the security of electronic voting systems, but from a different angle.
“Now the focus is on human factors in security and privacy. In the research group SECUSO – Security, Usability and Society that I’ve been leading since 2011, we apply a human centered security by design approach in order to develop usable security mechanisms as well as effective security awareness and education measures.”
A lot of security mechanisms as well as security awareness and education measures exist. However they have been shown to be highly ineffective. One of the main reasons is that users are not part of the development process. As a consequence, users are not able to protect themselves against cyber attackers while at the same time, more and more processes and businesses are transformed to the Internet, including so called critical infrastructures.
“In general, every citizen can use the results of our research. In Germany, many companies use the security awareness and education measures as most of them are developed in Germany. Some of them are available in English. Most recently, one measure has been translated into Swedish. We collaborate with lawyers in the field of electronic voting and privacy. Furthermore, we collaborate with psychologists and communication scientists in the area of human factors of security and privacy. What makes our group SECUSO unique is that we do not only develop and evaluate mockups but we develop and maintain the corresponding tools. This enables us to conduct field studies.”
One of SECUSO’s more recent projects is on the privacy paradox – why do people state that privacy is important to them although they often share so much sensitive information?
“Here we try to understand which factors have an influence on the decision making in the privacy context. Once having understood these factors, we want to study those factors that can be influenced towards more privacy protecting behavior. One of them is awareness, in other words make people aware where information is collected, which information is critical and possible consequences.”
For Melanie Volkamer, working in Sweden has been a pleasant and interesting experience.
“Before moving to Sweden I heard and read that work-life balance is much better in Scandinavian countries compared to Germany. Once having been there, I can say, I am impressed by this and how it is protected.”