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Dr James Nicholson


Department: Computer and Information Sciences

James is a Lecturer in the School of Computer and Information Sciences. James is interested in human-centred cybersecurity, in particular around the domains of usable authentication and social engineering.


James' recent work focuses on improving the cybersecurity awareness and behaviours of communities through embedding knowledgeable peers to encourage open discussions around security and serve as behaviour change role models. Past work has looked into improving user authentication, both by repurposing existing graphical authentication systems and by evaluating novel ones. He is also interested in user privacy and how groups of users (children, parents, older adults) experience location tracking technologies, as well as how CCTV video can be crowdsourced to de-centralise the surveillance landscape. More recently, he has developed tools and methodologies for uncovering and understanding employees’ mental models of security threats with the aim of improving training programmes and/or organisational policies, as well as practical means for improving users’ protection against these security threats (e.g. phishing).


Previously, James was a senior researcher in PaCT Lab working on the Cybersecurity Across the Lifespan (cSALSA) project. The project explores how cyber-security is understood, and the attitudes and behaviours of people to cyber-security and risk. During his time in PaCT Lab, James also worked on Choice Architecture for Information Security (ChAISe), Digital Economy Research Centre (DERC), and the Horizon 2020 project CYBECO. Prior to PaCT Lab, James worked at Open Lab, Newcastle University on the TEDDI and SiDE projects. James obtained his BSc (Information Systems) from Newcastle University in 2008, and his MRes Psychology from Northumbria University in 2009. James’ PhD work – completed in 2012 – explored user authentication in the context of older adults under the supervision of Professor Lynne Coventry and Professor Pam Briggs.

James Nicholson

Campus Address

B113, Ellison Building
Northumbria University
Newcastle upon Tyne

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Exploring the Acceptability of Graphical Passwords for People with Dyslexia, Evtimova, P., Nicholson, J. 28 May 2021, INTERACT 2021, Cham, Springer
  • From Personal Data to Digital Legacy: Exploring Conflicts in the Sharing, Security and Privacy of Post-mortem Data, Holt, J., Nicholson, J., Smeddinck, J. 19 Apr 2021, WWW '21: Proceedings of the Web Conference 2021, New York, ACM
  • Training and Embedding Cybersecurity Guardians in Older Communities, Nicholson, J., Morrison, B., Dixon, M., Holt, J., Coventry, L., McGlasson, J. 6 May 2021, CHI '21, New York, ACM
  • CyberGuardians: Improving Community Cyber Resilience Through Embedded Peer-to-Peer Support, Nicholson, J., McGlasson, J. 6 Jul 2020, DIS' 20 Companion: Companion Publication of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference, New York, NY, ACM
  • Designing for Employee Voice, Abdulgalimov, D., Kirkham, R., Nicholson, J., Vlachokyriakos, V., Briggs, P., Olivier, P. May 2020, Proceedings of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’20): April 25–30, 2020, Honolulu, HI, USA, ACM
  • Investigating Teenagers’ Ability to Detect Phishing Messages, Nicholson, J., Javed, Y., Dixon, M., Coventry, L., Dele-Ajayi, O., Anderson, P. Sep 2020, EuroUSEC 2020, Piscataway, IEEE
  • Engaging Users with Educational Games: The Case of Phishing, Dixon, M., Asanka Gamagedara Arachchilage, N., Nicholson, J. 2 May 2019, Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '19), New York, NY, USA, ACM
  • “If It’s Important It Will Be A Headline”: Cybersecurity Information Seeking in Older Adults, Nicholson, J., Coventry, L., Briggs, P. 2 May 2019, Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, New York, ACM
  • Introducing the Cybersurvival Task: Assessing and Addressing Staff Beliefs about Effective Cyber Protection, Nicholson, J., Coventry, L., Briggs, P. 12 Aug 2018, Proceedings of the Fourteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS) 2018, Berkeley, Usenix
  • Simple Nudges for Better Password Creation, Nicholson, J., Vlachokyriakos, V., Coventry, L., Briggs, P., Olivier, P. 6 Jul 2018, BCS 32nd Human Computer Interaction Conference

PGR Supervision

Neeranjan Chitare Generative Adversarial Network Based Technique for Mitigating Business Email Compromise (BEC) Spear Phishing in Organisations Start Date: 18/01/2021


  • Education Other Qualification March 02 2020
  • Psychology PhD January 25 2013
  • Psychology MRes September 30 2009
  • Information Systems BSc (Hons) August 30 2008
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy FHEA

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