Despite readily available cloud services, some people decide to self-host internal or external services for themselves or their organization. In doing so, a broad spectrum of commercial, institutional, and private self-hosters take responsibility for their data, security, and reliability of their operations. Currently, little is known about what motivates these self- hosters, how they operate and secure their services, and which challenges they face. To improve the understanding of self-hosters’ security mindsets and practices, we conducted a largescale survey (NS=994) with users of a popular self-hosting suite and in-depth follow-up interviews with selected commercial, non-profit, and private users (NI =41). We found exemplary behavior in all user groups; however, we also found a significant part of self-hosters who approach security in an unstructured way, regardless of social or organizational embeddedness. Vague catch-all concepts such as firewalls and backups dominate the landscape, without proper reflection on the threats they help mitigate. At times, self-hosters engage in creative tactics to compensate for a potential lack of expertise or experience.
The 32nd USENIX Security Symposium