“It’s the one thing that makes my life tick”: Security Perspectives of the Smartphone Era

Matt Dixon*, Elizabeth Sillence, James Nicholson, Lynne Coventry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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As smartphones overtake personal computers as the device of choice for internet access and everyday digital tasks, cybersecurity becomes a pressing issue for the platform. Research has found that smartphone users appear to act less securely than they would on a PC, but the reasons for this are unclear. The technology, the threats, and the role of smartphones have all developed in recent years, and this paper examines what smartphone security looks like to users in the 2020s. We interviewed 27 smartphone users about their security attitudes and behaviours. We find that users place great emphasis on, and take responsibility for, the physical security of their device, but minimise their responsibility for dealing with digital threats. We observe key contextual factors that influence how users protect their smartphones. The increasing monetary cost of smartphones and users’ functional reliance on them, causes participants to be highly concerned with protecting the physical safety and integrity of their devices. However, users appear to have a high level of trust in apps, based on the vetting processes of official app stores, yet they are still vulnerable to abuse from malicious/unnecessary permissions, and exhibit poor security habits when accessing illegitimate, pirated media outside of their smartphone’s app store.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 18 Aug 2023
EventEuroUSEC 2023: The 2023 European Symposium on Usable Security - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 16 Oct 202317 Oct 2023


ConferenceEuroUSEC 2023
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