On Smartphone Users' Difficulty with Understanding Implicit Authentication


Implicit authentication (IA) has recently become a popular approach for providing physical security on smartphones. It relies on behavioral traits (e.g., gait patterns) for user identification, instead of biometric data or knowledge of a PIN. However, it is not yet known whether users can understand the semantics of this technology well enough to use it properly. We bridge this knowledge gap by evaluating how Android’s Smart Lock (SL), which is the first widely deployed IA solution on smartphones, is understood by its users. We conducted a qualitative user study (N=26) and an online survey (N=331). The results suggest that users often have difficulty understanding SL semantics, leaving them unable to judge when their phone would be (un)locked. We found that various aspects of SL, such as its capabilities and its authentication factors, are confusing for the users. We also found that depth of smartphone adoption is a significant antecedent of SL comprehension.

In The ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2021.