Rebecca Balebako, Abigail Marsh, Jialiu Lin, Jason Hong, and Lorrie Faith Cranor


Workshop on Usable Security (USEC)


February 2014


Smartphone app developers have to make many privacy-related decisions about what data to collect about end-users, and how that data is used. We explore how app developers make decisions about privacy and security. Additionally, we examine whether any privacy and security behaviors are related to characteristics of the app development companies. We conduct a series of interviews with 13 app developers to obtain rich qualitative information about privacy and security decision-making. We use an online survey of 228 app developers to quantify behaviors and test our hypotheses about the relationship between privacy and security behaviors and company characteristics. We find that smaller companies are less likely to demonstrate positive privacy and security behaviors. Additionally, although third-party tools for ads and analytics are pervasive, developers aren’t aware of the data collected by these tools. We suggest tools and opportunities to reduce the barriers for app developers to implement privacy and security best practices.

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