What does user behavior say?

Software Definition “User Behavior”
What does user behavior say?



By Gedeon Rauch

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The concept of user behavior originally comes from marketing. Especially in online marketing, user behavior is essential to predict and better understand customer decisions. Developers can learn from this too.

User behavior has a high degree of importance both for the field of user experience design and for IT security.

User behavior (or user behavior) is a large and broad umbrella term that actually comes from marketing. However, user behavior can hardly be ignored in IT either, after all, it is just as important for an application’s user interface as it is for the security of a system.

To understand this, it is worth taking a look at the definition of user behavior in digital marketing and the implications for cyber security programmers.

Marketing – Understanding and influencing user behaviour

Marketing has the goal of the highest possible sales. This means that the analysis of user behavior is not only purely descriptive, but should also be influenced.

Marketing requires a clearly desired interaction or use of a website or app and wants to optimize all processes accordingly.

User behavior is measured using various quantifiable values ​​(also important for IT) and compared with the desired parameters. As a starting point, web-based tools such as Google Analytics are used here, which has the advantage for marketing staff that they can find the right parameters for the desired parameters in the analysis tool.

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All these numbers can provide valuable conclusions about shortcomings or optimization potential in UI or UX design or point to other web optimizations. This is where the first interface to IT can be found. For example, a high bounce rate from mobile devices may indicate that content is not loading or that the responsive design is not right.

In web design, the relevance of user behavior runs through all departments and can often point to problems that need to be addressed across departments. When optimizing usability, an analysis of user behavior is essential to get a picture of the actual use of a software, system or application.

User behavior in UX optimization

With an analysis of user behavior, software can be improved from iteration to iteration. Only a high utilization reveals certain problems so that the usability of frequently used options can be improved.

To be able to guarantee that data is actually handled correctly, one should make sure that the measured variable is sufficient. In addition, conceptual care should be taken to ensure that the measurement is not influenced too much by the question. User experience successes are now easier to quantify and back up with data, which can help teams release new features for future versions.

User behavior in IT security

In IT security, user behavior is also an important measure to prevent insider threats or (in the case of applications) to be able to fix weaknesses caused by users in future updates. Protection of individual lines of code and entire systems against unauthorized access from the outside, but often the source of error lies with the people themselves.

A radical measure to control user behavior is sandboxes, such as those found in iOS or Android. Developers have blocked apps that don’t come from the official stores. This design is economically optimized (as it regulates the flow of apps to the application through a vendor-controlled platform), but also eliminates an unwanted user behavior: the installation of potentially malicious apps.

Internal enterprise systems can also draw conclusions about security holes by analyzing user behavior and blocking certain options at the administrative level. For example, users are not allowed to install software on the organization’s computer.

User behavior as a basis for UBA

In addition, an average alias can be created for the users of a system. The goal of user behavior analysis is to analyze in real time whether individuals’ behavior deviates from the norm.

It can be determined, for example, when user behavior deviates from the norm so that a potential danger arises; be it through careless downloading of malware, unauthorized access to files, access through an unsecured system, or knowingly sending internal data.

In all these cases, a firewall would not have hit. SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) only analyzes events from operating systems, firewalls or protocols. This is a safe protection against brute force attacks or attacks from outside.

However, employees who broadcast internally during working hours or cybercriminals who have stolen access and log into the system regularly are overlooked in this way. User behavior as a data base can be used to prevent insider attacks using real-time analytics and machine learning.

From security to polished UX, a comprehensive thought

What only a few decades ago could only be evaluated using long questionnaires can now be read in real time. Data sets for the desired measurements provide information on how users behave in practice. In addition, interfaces designed for AB testing can examine user behavior on different interfaces and, for example, identify the better user interface. Since user behavior also serves as the basis for UBA, it is also part of cyber security in protecting against insider attacks.

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