Horst Görtz Endowed Professorship for Angela Sasse

In IT security, users play a pivotal role. Angela Sasse was among the first researchers to hold this view.

Prof Dr Angela Sasse is considered a Usable Security pioneer: she was one of the first scientists to focus on the IT users’ concept of security and their security behaviour. On July 25, 2018, she was awarded the Horst Görtz Endowed Professorship, in the Founder’s presence. The grant amounting to 1.43 million euros is laid out for five years. “The professorship constitutes another important step towards strengthening our research into IT Security – a research area in which we enjoy international renown,” said Prof Dr Axel Schölmerich, Rector at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), at the award ceremony. “We have been leading the field mainly thanks to our sponsor, Dr Horst Görtz, and his ongoing commitment to research into IT Security at RUB, which he has been promoting for over 15 years. For this, we are very grateful to him.”

Security does not work without humans

“Even the best security technology won’t deliver security in practice if enterprises and consumers don’t accept it or don’t apply it properly,” says Angela Sasse, who has been heading the Chair of Human-Centred Security at Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI) since May 1, 2018. Consequently, she focuses primarily on the principles underlying acceptance and usability of encryption. “HGI boasts one of the best encryption research groups worldwide,” notes the researcher. “Therefore, my new research field ‘usability and acceptance of encryption’ complements the Institute’s core competence perfectly.”

Together with Prof Dr Markus Dürmuth, she investigates, for instance, how the usability of authentication techniques may be improved. This could, for example, be achieved by replacing passwords that are difficult to memorise by secure and simple alternatives, such as biometrics (e.g. fingerprint or voice recognition). The researcher also intends to collaborate closely with Prof Dr Sascha Fahl at HGI. Software developers play a crucial role in the delivering systems that are secure and easy to use, and the research develops tools and new development processes that support them.

About the person

Angela Sasse studied psychology at the University of Wuppertal in the 1980s and continued her studies in the UK. She completed her Master’s degree in occupational psychology at the University of Sheffield and was awarded her PhD degree at the University of Birmingham. In 1990, she took up a position of lecturer in Computer Science at University College London. There, she became Professor for Human-centred Technology in 2003. From 2012 to 2017, she was the founding Director of the UK Research Institute for Science of Cyber Security (RISCS) and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2015. On May 1, 2018, she took over the Chair of Human-Centred Security at Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security at RUB.