A Mobile App for Assisting Users to Make Informed Selections in Security Settings for Protecting Personal Health Data: Development and Feasibility Study

Leming Zhou, Bambang Parmanto, Zakiy Alfikri, Jie Bao
<span title="2018-12-11">2018</span> <i title="JMIR Publications Inc."> <a target="_blank" rel="noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/container/cfonkdvdevdi7ibnokqvtmt6te" style="color: black;">JMIR mHealth and uHealth</a> </i> &nbsp;
On many websites and mobile apps for personal health data collection and management, there are security features and privacy policies available for users. Users sometimes are given an opportunity to make selections in a security setting page; however, it is challenging to make informed selections in these settings for users who do not have much education in information security as they may not precisely know the meaning of certain terms mentioned in the privacy policy or understand the
more &raquo; ... ces of their selections in the security and privacy settings. Objective: The aim of this study was to demonstrate several commonly used security features such as encryption, user authentication, and access control in a mobile app and to determine whether this brief security education is effective in encouraging users to choose stronger security measures to protect their personal health data. Methods: A mobile app named SecSim (Security Simulator) was created to demonstrate the consequences of choosing different options in security settings. A group of study participants was recruited to conduct the study. These participants were asked to make selections in the security settings before and after they viewed the consequences of security features. At the end of the study, a brief interview was conducted to determine the reason for their selections in the security settings. Their selections before and after the security education were compared in order to determine the effectiveness of the security education. The usability of the app was also evaluated. Results: In total, 66 participants finished the study and provided their answers in the app and during a brief interview. The comparison between the pre-and postsecurity education selection in security settings indicated that 21% (14/66) to 32% (21/66) participants chose a stronger security measure in text encryption, access control, and image encryption; 0% (0/66) to 2% (1/66) participants chose a weaker measure in these 3 security features; and the remainder kept their original selections. Several demographic characteristics such as marital status, years of experience using mobile devices, income, employment, and health status showed an impact on the setting changes. The usability of the app was good. Conclusions: The study results indicate that a significant percentage of users (21%-32%) need guidance to make informed selection in security settings. If websites and mobile apps can provide embedded security education for users to understand the consequences of their security feature selection and the meaning of commonly used security features, it may help users to make the best choices in terms of security settings. Our mobile app, SecSim, offers a unique approach for mobile app users to understand commonly used security features. This app may be incorporated into other apps or be used before users make selections in their security settings.
<span class="external-identifiers"> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener noreferrer" href="https://doi.org/10.2196/11210">doi:10.2196/11210</a> <a target="_blank" rel="external noopener" href="https://fatcat.wiki/release/r2vkfznyqfe7xolxwarsayouaa">fatcat:r2vkfznyqfe7xolxwarsayouaa</a> </span>
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