End-Users' Knowledge and Perception about Security of Mobile Health Apps: An Empirical Study

by   Bakheet Aljedaani, et al.

Mobile health applications (mHealth apps for short) are being increasingly adopted in the healthcare sector, enabling stakeholders such as governments, health units, medics, and patients, to utilize health services in a pervasive manner. Despite having several known benefits, mHealth apps entail significant security and privacy challenges that can lead to data breaches with serious social, legal, and financial consequences. This research presents an empirical investigation about security awareness of end-users of mHealth apps that are available on major mobile platforms, including Android and iOS. We collaborated with two mHealth providers in Saudi Arabia to survey 101 end-users, investigating their security awareness about (i) existing and desired security features, (ii) security related issues, and (iii) methods to improve security knowledge. Findings indicate that majority of the end-users are aware of the existing security features provided by the apps (e.g., restricted app permissions); however, they desire usable security (e.g., biometric authentication) and are concerned about privacy of their health information (e.g., data anonymization). End-users suggested that protocols such as session timeout or Two-factor authentication (2FA) positively impact security but compromise usability of the app. Security-awareness via social media, peer guidance, or training from app providers can increase end-users trust in mHealth apps. This research investigates human-centric knowledge based on empirical evidence and provides a set of guidelines to develop secure and usable mHealth apps.


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