Impact of User Characteristics on Attitudes Towards Automatic Mobile Application Updates

Authors: 

Arunesh Mathur, University of Maryland, College Park; Marshini Chetty, Princeton University

Abstract: 

To keep mobile devices secure, experts recommend turning on auto-updates for applications, but recent research has suggested that users often avoid auto-updating because updates can lead to undesirable consequences such as user interface changes or compatibility issues. Understanding whether there are commonalities amongst users who avoid auto-updates can help us create better mobile application updating interfaces. However, little is known about how users' characteristics associate with their attitudes towards auto-updating their mobile applications, or how we can leverage these characteristics to encourage users to auto-update these applications to improve security. In this paper, by surveying Android users, we establish how users' past experiences with software updating, and users' psychometric traits differentiate those users who avoid application auto-updates from those who do them, as well as users' preferences towards auto-updating their applications. Our findings reveal that users who avoid application auto-updates are more likely to have had past negative experiences with software updating, tend to take fewer risks, and display greater proactive security awareness. Users' perceived level of trust with mobile applications also determined how comfortable they are auto-updating these applications. Based on these findings, we recommend how Android can improve the design of application update systems to encourage users to auto-update and keep their devices secure.

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