Privacy, security and usability, choose any two

Each can conflict with the other two making a digital product with all three very difficult to design. It ends up being a choice; Usability, Security or Privacy. Choose two of three.

Usability should be the natural place to start, after all something with fewer barriers will mean more people use it. But usability finds itself in conflict with it’s old adversary, security.

Security typically means high strength passwords, two factor authentication, generated-time expired codes. None of these are typically easy to use.

The security of our data is also in question when the government can look at it, companies can buy it or the organisation gets hacked. Security is in conflict with privacy.

Keeping our data private increasingly feels like a luxury. Accessing the web in a public place? You need a VPN or set up Tor to browse with privacy or PGP to encrypt your email. None are very usable. Facebook, Apple and others deliberately make it difficult to turn on privacy features of their products. We are back to the start, privacy conflicts with usability.

Apple Pay, the exception that proves the law.

Is it possible to get all three? If anyone can do it Apple can. Apple pay seems to meet all three.

It’s easy to use, just touch your phone against the card machine. That’s not in conflict with security as you use your fingerprint to verify. Privacy is taken care of as unique credit card credentials are generated for each transaction.

Apple make it seem simple but getting the balance between security, privacy and usability is not easy.

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