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

Arun Kumar, Nitesh Saxena, Ersin Uzun
2009 arXiv   pre-print
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
more » ... 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. We observe that the focus of prior research has mostly been limited to pairing scenarios where a single user controls both the devices. In this paper, we consider more general and emerging "two-user" scenarios, where two different users establish pairing between their respective devices. Although a number of pairing methods exists in the literature, only a handful of those are applicable to the two-user setting. We present the first study to identify the methods practical for two-user pairing scenarios, and comparatively evaluate the usability of these methods. Our results identify methods best-suited for users, in terms of efficiency, error-tolerance and of course, usability. Our work sheds light on the applicability and usability of pairing methods for emerging two-user scenarios, a topic largely ignored so far.
arXiv:0907.4743v1 fatcat:p7es475fcfhj3ms2fxolbtqoqq