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CITP Luncheon Speaker Series: Marshini Chetty – “Like Zombies They Keep Coming Back” Improving the User Experience of Software Updates

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
12:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd floor open space
Princeton, NJ 08544 United States + Google Map

Food and discussion begin at 12:30 pm. Open to current Princeton faculty, staff, and students. Open to members of the public by invitation only. Please contact Laura Cummings-Abdo at if you are interested in attending a particular lunch.

Users may not install security-related software updates which can open up their device to exploitation by attackers. Yet, we know little about why users avoid updates in the first place or how to convince users to apply security-related patches. Given that malware and cyber-attacks are on the rise, filling this gap in our knowledge is a crucial part of helping users to keep their systems secure. In this talk, I outline the user barriers to software updates that we uncovered in a formative study of 125 users’ software updating practices. I then describe the design and evaluation of a low-fidelity, minimally intrusive, information-rich, user-centric, software updating prototype created to address issues identified in the formative study. Our findings suggest that updates are disruptive, provide insufficient information to convince users to apply updates, and that the updating process is confusing for most. Our studies also suggest that the broken user experience around updating is the major factor contributing to users avoiding software updates. Based on our findings, I make recommendations for increasing the chances of users adopting updates by fixing issues in the current user experience with the overall goal of enhancing security. I also outline directions for future work in this space.


Marshini Chetty is an Assistant Professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland specializing in human computer interaction and ubiquitous computing. Her research focuses on making the Internet more efficient, affordable, and secure from the user perspective via user studies and the design, implementation, and evaluation of end-user facing technologies. Her work is funded by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and a Google Faculty Research Award and she regularly publishes in top tier human computer interaction venues such as CHI and Ubicomp. Marshini holds a Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and a Masters and Bachelors in Computer Science from University of Cape Town, South Africa.