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Why aren't users using protection? Investigating the usability of smartphone locking

Micallef, Nicholas and Just, Mike and Baillie, Lynne and Halvey, Martin and Kayacik, Hilmi Güneş (2015) Why aren't users using protection? Investigating the usability of smartphone locking. In: 17th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services. ACM, New York, pp. 284-294. ISBN 978-1-4503-3652-9

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One of the main reasons why smartphone users do not adopt screen locking mechanisms is due to the inefficiency of entering a PIN/pattern each time they use their phone. To address this problem we designed a context-sensitive screen locking application which asked participants to enter a PIN/pattern only when necessary, and evaluated its impact on efficiency and satisfaction. Both groups of participants, who prior to the study either locked or did not lock their phone, adopted our application and felt that unlocking their phone only when necessary was more efficient, did not annoy them and offered a reasonable level of security. Participants responded positively to the option of choosing when a PIN/pattern is required in different contexts. Therefore, we recommend that designers of smartphone locking mechanisms should consider ceding a reasonable level of control over security settings to users to increase adoption and convenience, while keeping smartphones reasonably secure.