Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date


Technical Report Number



In real world domains, from healthcare to power to finance, we deploy computer systems intended to streamline and improve the activities of human agents in the corresponding non-cyber worlds. However, talking to actual users (instead of just computer security experts) reveals endemic circumvention of the computer-embedded rules. Good-intentioned users, trying to get their jobs done, systematically work around security and other controls embedded in their IT systems. This paper reports on our work compiling a large corpus of such incidents and developing a model based on semiotic triads to examine security circumvention. This model suggests that mismorphisms---mappings that fail to preserve structure---lie at the heart of circumvention scenarios; differential perceptions and needs explain users' actions. We support this claim with empirical data from the corpus.