Understanding Non-Experts’ Security- and Privacy-Related Questions on a Q&A Site


Ayako A. Hasegawa, NICT; Naomi Yamashita, NTT / Kyoto University; Tatsuya Mori, Waseda University / NICT / RIKEN AIP; Daisuke Inoue, NICT; Mitsuaki Akiyama, NTT


Non-expert users are often forced to make decisions about security and privacy in their daily lives. Prior research has shown that non-expert users ask strangers for advice about digital media use online. In this study, to clarify the security and privacy concerns of non-expert users in their daily lives, we investigated security- and privacy-related question posts on a Question-and-Answer (Q&A) site for non-expert users. We conducted a thematic analysis of 445 question posts. We identified seven themes among the questions and found that users asked about cyberattacks the most, followed by authentication and security software. We also found that there was a strong demand for answers, especially for questions related to privacy abuse and account/device management. Our findings provide key insights into what non-experts are struggling with when it comes to privacy and security and will help service providers and researchers make improvements to address these concerns.

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 {281242,
author = {Ayako A. Hasegawa and Naomi Yamashita and Tatsuya Mori and Daisuke Inoue and Mitsuaki Akiyama},
title = {Understanding {Non-Experts{\textquoteright}} Security- and {Privacy-Related} Questions on a {Q\&A} Site},
booktitle = {Eighteenth Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS 2022)},
year = {2022},
isbn = {978-1-939133-30-4},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {39--56},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/soups2022/presentation/hasegawa},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug,

Presentation Video