Clinical computer security for victims of intimate partner violence

Sam Havron, Diana Freed, Rahul Chatterjee, Damon McCoy, Nicola Dell, Thomas Ristenpart

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    Digital insecurity in the face of targeted, persistent attacks increasingly leaves victims in debilitating or even life-threatening situations. We propose an approach to helping victims, what we call clinical computer security, and explore it in the context of intimate partner violence (IPV). IPV is widespread and abusers exploit technology to track, harass, intimidate, and otherwise harm their victims. We report on the iterative design, refinement, and deployment of a consultation service that we created to help IPV victims obtain in-person security help from a trained technologist. To do so we created and tested a range of new technical and non-technical tools that systematize the discovery and investigation of the complicated, multimodal digital attacks seen in IPV. An initial field study with 44 IPV survivors showed how our procedures and tools help victims discover account compromise, exploitable misconfigurations, and potential spyware.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationProceedings of the 28th USENIX Security Symposium
    PublisherUSENIX Association
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781939133069
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
    Event28th USENIX Security Symposium - Santa Clara, United States
    Duration: Aug 14 2019Aug 16 2019

    Publication series

    NameProceedings of the 28th USENIX Security Symposium


    Conference28th USENIX Security Symposium
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CitySanta Clara

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Computer Networks and Communications
    • Information Systems
    • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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