Accessibility and Security or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Halting Problem presented at ToorCon 2012

by Anna Shubina,

Tags: Security

Summary : Accessibility of digital content is a hugely misunderstood issue. Programmers and content developers tend to view it as a distraction or a special interest concern. Accessibility advocates fail to describe it in terms that would put it in the proper place.
We argue that if a format or a document has systemic accessibility problems, then accessibility is likely to be the least of its problems; that accessibility only collapses first, like a canary in a mine, and security is next to follow. We argue that many accessibility problems, just like many security problems, stem from documents being hard to parse or containing executable content, and that the accessibility community is only the first to suffer, due to not having the manpower to make extremely complicated formats to almost work almost always.
Accessibility software is an unexpected consumer of complicated formats, and is thus the first sanity check on complexity gone out of whack. We believe that accessibility community and security community should join their efforts for working to the same goal of documents that can be easily and consistently parsed without compromising security.
We now live in the digital world where both security and accessibility solutions are daily tasked with solving the halting problem. The least we can do is acknowledge the situation and accept accessibility as an asset to the computer security field.