Exploring end-user smartphone security awareness within a South African context

Jacques Ophoff*, Mark Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

21 Citations (Scopus)


    International research has shown that users arecomplacent when it comes to smartphone security behaviour.This is contradictory, as users perceive data stored on the'smart' devices to be private and worth protecting. Traditionallyless attention is paid to human factors compared to technicalsecurity controls (such as firewalls and antivirus), but there is acrucial need to analyse human aspects as technology alone cannotdeliver complete security solutions. Increasing a user's knowledgecan improve compliance with good security practices, but fortrainers and educators to create meaningful security awarenessmaterials they must have a thorough understanding of users'existing behaviours, misconceptions and general attitude towardssmartphone security.

    The primary purpose of this research was to assess thelevel of smartphone security awareness displayed by the public,determining whether a general level of security complacencyexists amongst smartphone users. The study was undertaken ina South African context (a multi-cultural developing nation) andincluded demographics as a variable in assessing any differencesin smartphone security awareness between population groups. Amodified version of the instrument developed by [1) was used.

   A survey of 619 South African users examined trust ofsmartphone application repositories, users' considerations wheninstalling new applications and their use of protection mechanisms (security controls). The sample proved complacent intheir smartphone security behaviours with users displaying highlevels of trust towards smartphone application repositories, rarelyconsidering privacy and security considerations when installingnew applications and also not adequately protecting themselvesthrough adopting smartphone protection mechanisms (controls).The research did not find any conclusive associations to suggestthat a user's home language impacts their information securitybehaviour or trust. However, an association between IT expertiseand the adoption of smartphone security controls was found.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2014 Information Security for South Africa
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the ISSA 2014 conference
EditorsHein S Venter, Marianne Loock, Marijke Coetzee, Mariki M Eloff
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781479933846, 9781479933839
ISBN (Print)9781479933853
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event13th Annual Conference on Information Security for South Africa - Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel, Johannesburg, South Africa
Duration: 13 Aug 201414 Aug 2014
Conference number: 13th

Publication series

ISSN (Print)2330-9881


Conference13th Annual Conference on Information Security for South Africa
Abbreviated titleISSA 2014
Country/TerritorySouth Africa
Internet address


  • Smartphone
  • Awareness and training in security
  • Mobile computing security


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