Informal Support Networks: an investigation into Home Data Security Practices


Norbert Nthala and Ivan Flechais, University of Oxford


The widespread and rising adoption of information and communication technology in homes is happening at a time when data security breaches are commonplace. This has resulted in a wave of security awareness campaigns targeting the home computer user. Despite the prevalence of these campaigns, studies have shown poor adoption rates of security measures. This has resulted in proposals for securing data in the home built on interdisciplinary theories and models, but more empirical research needs to be done to understand the practical context, characteristics, and needs of home users in order to rigorously evaluate and inform solutions to home data security.

To address this, we employ a two-part study to explore issues that influence or affect security practices in the home. In the first part, we conduct a qualitative Grounded Theory analysis of 65 semi-structured interviews aimed at uncovering the key factors in home user security practices, and in the second part we conduct a quantitative survey of 1128 participants to validate and generalise our initial findings. We found evidence that security practices in the home are affected by survival/outcome bias; social relationships serve as informal support networks for security in the home; and that people look for continuity of care when they seek or accept security support.

Open Access Media

USENIX is committed to Open Access to the research presented at our events. Papers and proceedings are freely available to everyone once the event begins. Any video, audio, and/or slides that are posted after the event are also free and open to everyone. Support USENIX and our commitment to Open Access.

@inproceedings {219390,
author = {Norbert Nthala and Ivan Flechais},
title = {Informal Support Networks: an investigation into Home Data Security Practices},
booktitle = {Fourteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security ({SOUPS} 2018)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-931971-45-4},
address = {Baltimore, MD},
pages = {63--82},
url = {},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},