My Smartphone Is Safe

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The User’s Point of View Regarding Novel Authentication Methods and Gradual Security Levels on Smartphones Tim Dörflinger, Anna Voth, Juliane Krämer and Ronald Fromm Deutsche Telekom Laboratories, An-Institute Berlin University of Technology Ernst-Reuter-Platz 7, 10587, Berlin, Germany {tim.doerflinger, anna.voth, juliane.kraemer, ronald.fromm}


Authentication methods, Gradual security levels, Smartphone security, Qualitative user research, Focus groups, Innovation development. This paper addresses laboratory tests regarding a graded security system on smartphones based on novel authentication methods. The main scope of this paper is the user’s perception of and the need for such a system, rather than the technical dimensions of it. In November 2009 we conducted four focus groups with a total of n=19 respondents with the goal to evaluate different prototypical authentication methods for smartphones and to determine the effects such methods would have for the user’s interaction with the devices. The focus groups were part of a larger research program at Deutsche Telekom Laboratories that included a web survey measuring general user preferences regarding security and smartphone usage as well as the development of prototypical authentication methods based on Google’s “Android” operating system. The goal of this research was to integrate the user into the development process as soon as possible and to determine the overall acceptance of new authentication methods, such as biometric authentication, but also 2D and 3D gestures, recognition based authentication and password authentication. This paper gives valuable insights on the weakest link of the security chain: the user.




In recent years, smartphones1 have taken up an increasingly important part in the lives of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) users. Formerly only a gadget to business users and aficionados or “geeks”, smartphones have set out to conquer the world, as current sales figures show. According to estimates from Canalys (2009), the global market for smartphones was divided into the five major device manufacturers: Nokia (39.7%), RIM (20.6%), Apple (17.8%), HTC (5.3%) and Fujitsu (3.4%) in the third quarter (Q3) of 2009. The remaining 13.2% were distributed amongst other 1

At the time this research paper was written, no industrystandardized definition for smartphone existed. In general, smartphones are considered to be mobile phones with extended PC functionality, such as Internet access, data processing, multimedia capabilities that run on a specific operating system which allows the development of additional applications and services.

manufacturers. Compared to Q3 figures of the previous year, this represents quarterly growth rates in world wide smartphone sales of over 4% and the market is far from being saturated. Estimates from Gartner (2009) show that by 2010 smartphone sales will make up around 37% of global handset sales. In addition, their revenue is forecast to reach $191 million by 2012, higher than spendings on mobile PCs, which is forecast to reach $152 million in 2012. Today, a constantly increasing number of consumers use smartphones for a broad variety of tasks and purposes, ranging from telephony to instant messaging, from mobile banking to Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) based navigation. Smartphones serve as tools for organizing the users’ daily lives through productivity applications such as calendars, notepads or calculators. Furthermore they are turned into multimedia toys with capabilities to play music, videos, and games or surf the World Wide Web (WWW) and take pictures using integrated cameras. Smartphones are more than just communication devices; they are mobile companions for various situations, ranging from

work organizers to holiday planners. But this is only the beginning. As Dilinchian (2009) acknowledges,...
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