MARCS: Mobile Augmented Reality for Cybersecurity

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Virginia Tech


Network analysts have long used two-dimensional security visualizations to make sense of network data. As networks grow larger and more complex, two-dimensional visualizations become more convoluted, potentially compromising user situational awareness of cyber threats. To combat this problem, augmented reality (AR) can be employed to visualize data within a cyber-physical context to restore user perception and improve comprehension; thereby, enhancing cyber situational awareness. Multiple generations of prototypes, known collectively as Mobile Augmented Reality for Cyber Security, or MARCS, were developed to study the impact of AR on cyber situational awareness. First generation prototypes were subjected to a formative pilot study of 44 participants, to generate user-centric performance data and feedback, which motivated the design and development of second generation prototypes and provided initial insight into the potentially beneficial impact of AR on cyber situational awareness. Second generation prototypes were subjected to a summative secondary study by 50 participants, to compare the impact of AR and non-AR visualizations on cyber situational awareness. Results of the secondary study suggest that employing AR to visualize cyber threats in a cyber-physical context collectively improves user threat perception and comprehension, indicating that, in some cases, AR security visualizations improve user cyber situational awareness over non-AR security visualizations.



Augmented Reality, Cybersecurity, Visualization