Quality and Usability

User experience with mobile security and privacy mechanisms (Lydia Kraus)

Smartphones have become indispensable in the life of many people. They are constant companions, connections to the world, information sources, and substitutes for other devices and tools that had to be carried individually in the past. While smartphones offer a variety of sources for positive user experience, their downside is their vulnerability to security attacks and the potential they offer to harm a users’ privacy. However, due to their known vulnerabilities, smartphones also encompass a number of mechanisms to protect a user’s security and privacy. This thesis focuses especially on security and privacy mechanisms which are visible to the end-user and which involve actions by the end-user, such as app permissions and screen locks with authentication. Research on the human factors related to mobile security and privacy mechanisms often follows the usable security and privacy paradigm. Thereby, usability forms the basis of understanding and improving the interaction between humans and security systems. An extension of the usability paradigm is the user experience (UX) paradigm which considers interaction factors beyond usability such as motivation, affect and emotion, and joy of use. The present thesis extends the body of knowledge on human factors and mobile security and privacy mechanisms by taking a user experience approach to the topic. It first investigates users’ experiences with and motivations to use mobile security and privacy in several qualitative, explorative studies. The findings thereof suggest that users not only suffer from limited usability of mobile security and privacy mechanisms, but that such mechanisms also need to address non-functional product qualities (e.g. hedonic quality) and the fulfillment of psychological needs. Those needs do not necessarily have to be related to the psychological need of Security only, but can also encompass aspects such as Autonomy and Stimulation. By the help of two use cases – app permissions and screen locks with authentication – several quantitative studies evaluate the potential of these mechanisms to shape the user experience in general and in particular with respect to hedonic quality. The results of the quantitative studies suggest that usability is an important factor for a good user experience with mobile security and privacy mechanisms. Furthermore, the results indicate that also these kinds of mechanisms can be manipulated in their potential to address aspects such as hedonic quality and need fulfillment. This suggests an extended design space for mobile security and privacy mechanisms which provides system designers with new possibilities to design secure systems that enable positive experiences. Based on these findings, directions for future research are discussed.


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