In addition to storing a plethora of sensitive personal and work information, smartphones also store sensor data about users and their daily activities. In order to understand users’ behaviors and attitudes towards the security of their smartphone data, we conducted 28 qualitative interviews. We examined why users choose (or choose not) to employ locking mechanisms (e.g., PINs) and their perceptions and awareness about the sensitivity of the data stored on their devices. We performed two additional online experiments to quantify our interview results and the extent to which sensitive data could be found in a user’s smartphone-accessible email archive. We observed a strong correlation between use of security features and risk perceptions, which indicates rational behavior. However, we also observed that most users likely underestimate the extent to which data stored on their smartphones pervades their identities, online and offline.
Serge Egelman, Sakshi Jain, Rebecca S. Portnoff, Kerwell Liao, Sunny Consolvo, and David Wagner. Are you ready to lock? understanding user motivations for smartphone locking behaviors. In Proceedings of the 2014 ACM SIGSAC conference on Computer & communications security (CCS ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA. 2014.