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A survey on smartphone user’s security choices, awareness and education

Smartphones contain a significant amount of personal data. Additionally, they are always in the user’s possession, which allows them to be abused for tracking (e.g., GPS, Bluetooth or WiFi tracking). In order to not reveal private information, smartphone users should secure their devices by setting lock screen protection, using third party security applications, and choosing appropriate security settings (often, default settings are inadequate). In this paper, we mount a survey to explore user choices, awareness and education with respect to cybersecurity. In comparison with prior work, we take the user’s cybersecurity familiarity into consideration in the analysis of user practices as well as have a strong focus on the younger generations, Y and Z. Our survey findings suggest that most users have appropriate lock screen settings to protect their phones from physical access; however, they disregard other security best practices, e.g., not using a VPN when connecting to a public WiFi or turning off unused features (regardless of level of expertise). Compared to desktop computers, smartphones are less secured and fewer third party security products are installed.

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