Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

, Volume 19, Issue 5–6, pp 941–954 | Cite as

Only play in your comfort zone: interaction methods for improving security awareness on mobile devices

  • Peter Riedl
  • Rene Mayrhofer
  • Andreas Möller
  • Matthias KranzEmail author
  • Florian Lettner
  • Clemens Holzmann
  • Marion Koelle
Original Article


In this paper, we study the concept of security zones as an intermediate layer of compartmentalization on mobile devices. Each of these security zones is isolated against the other zones and holds a different set of applications and associated user data and may apply different security policies. From a user point of view, they represent different contexts of use for the device, e.g., to distinguish between gaming (private context), payment transactions (secure context), and company-related email (enterprise context). We propose multiple visualization methods for conveying the current security zone information to the user, and interaction methods for switching between zones. Based on an online and a laboratory user study, we evaluated these concepts from a usability point of view. One important result is that in the tension field between security and usability, additional hardware can support the user’s awareness toward their zone context.


Mobile security Security zones Sandboxing Separation Compartmentalization 



Part of this work has been carried out within the scope of u’smile, the Josef Ressel Center for User-Friendly Secure Mobile Environments. We gratefully acknowledge funding and support by the Christian Doppler Gesellschaft, A1 Telekom Austria AG, Drei-Banken-EDV GmbH, LG Nexera Business Solutions AG, and NXP Semiconductors Austria GmbH. Part of this work has been carried out within the project “AUToMAte – Automatic Usability Testing of Mobile Applications” funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) under Contract Number 839094.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Riedl
    • 1
  • Rene Mayrhofer
    • 2
  • Andreas Möller
    • 5
  • Matthias Kranz
    • 3
    Email author
  • Florian Lettner
    • 4
  • Clemens Holzmann
    • 4
  • Marion Koelle
    • 3
  1. 1.JRC u’smileUniversity of Applied Sciences Upper AustriaHagenbergAustria
  2. 2.JRC u’smile and Institute of Networks and SecurityJohannes Kepler UniversitätLinzAustria
  3. 3.Embedded Interactive Systems LabUniversität PassauPassauGermany
  4. 4.Department of Mobile ComputingUniversity of Applied Sciences Upper AustriaHagenbergAustria
  5. 5.Metaio GmbHMunichGermany

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