The Effectiveness of Fear Appeals in Increasing Smartphone Locking Behavior among Saudi Arabians


Elham Al Qahtani and Mohamed Shehab, University of North Carolina Charlotte; Abrar Aljohani


Saudi Arabia has witnessed an exponential growth in smartphone adoption and penetration. This increase has been accompanied with an upward trend in cyber and mobile crimes. This calls to efforts that focus on enhancing the awareness of the public to security-related risks. In this study, we replicated the study performed by Albayram et al. published in SOUPS 2017; however, our study targetted participants in Saudi Arabia. We also investigated different fear appeal video designs that were more suited for this population (customized video, Arabic dubbed, and captions for the original video). The results from the original study, conducted in the United States, showed that 50% of participants in the treatment group and 21% in the control group enabled screen lock. The reason for replicating the original paper was to increase Saudis' awareness regarding the importance of sensitive data, especially with the increasing level of cybercrime. Our results showed that the Saudi-customized video was extremely effective in changing our participants' locking behavior (72.5% of participants enabled the screen lock), based on customized applications and Saudi culture. The dubbed video was the second-most effective (62.5%) locking behavior. Finally, we have illustrated our data comparison analysis in detail.

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@inproceedings {219431,
author = {Elham Al Qahtani and Mohamed Shehab and Abrar Aljohani},
title = {The Effectiveness of Fear Appeals in Increasing Smartphone Locking Behavior among Saudi Arabians},
booktitle = {Fourteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2018)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-939133-10-6},
address = {Baltimore, MD},
pages = {31--46},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,