Saudi Arabian continue to experience cyberattacks and information system compromises
despite the availability of cybersecurity measures. As the use of technology continues to rise,
internet users are becoming more concerned with their safety (Alkhalifah & Albahli, 2019) .
Nonetheless, in 2019, 95% of businesses in Saudi Arabia experienced cyber-attacks or cyber
compromise of other forms (Ndichu, 2020) . These cyberattack cases continue to rise despite the
existence of MFA, which is considered an effective way of keeping information technology
systems secure. Therefore, it is possible that some organizations have not adopted MFA yet,
because of various factors. The focus of this study is to determine the social and cultural factors
that affect the adoption of MFA in Saudi Arabian organizations.
This section provides the literature review to help understand what other authors have
written and studied in relation to the adoption of MFA and possible factors affecting the adoption
of these factors. This section states the strategy that has been used for the literature search. This
includes a list of key search terms and combinations of the terms during the literature search. The
next part is the conceptual framework, highlighting the theory to be used in this study. The
background, history, and the relationship between the theory and this study are discussed. The
conceptual framework also describes how the theory has been applied in previous studies and
how it is going to be applied in the current study. The next part of this section is a review of the
literature to identify the studies related to the current study, different ways by which the
researchers have approached the problem, and a justification for the rationale for selecting the
variables in this study. The literature is then synthesized in terms of what is known and what is
not yet known. Lastly, this chapter provides a summary by highlighting the major themes that
have been outlined in the literature.
2.2 Literature Search Strategy
Literature review is a vital part of every research. This is because it is from the literature
review that a researcher gets insights into the study and direction of how to go about the
research. Through a systematic review of the literature, it is possible to have a transparent study
report thereby giving a sense of what has been done and hence seeing the gap and the necessity
for doing the current study (Cooper et al., 2018) . It is through a literature review that research
questions get formulated after identifying the existing gap in what has been studied and
published (Torres et al., 2018) . With this in mind, it was necessary to develop a proper strategy
for the identification of the literature to be reviewed as well as the strategy for arranging the
A comprehensive literature search is shown in figure 2.1. That is, the literature search
starts with identifying the main concepts of the study, selecting the library sources to search,
searching the sources, and finally reviewing the literature thereby refining the results. For this
study, the literature search strategy followed the procedure highlighted in Figure 2.1.
Using Boolean operators such as
"AND" and "OR."
Evaluating the results.
Review of literature.
Synthesis of literature.
Key search terms (multi-factor
authentication, MFA, socio-cultural
factors affecting adoption of MFA,
UTAUT, unified theory of
acceptance and use of technology ).
main research terms
Figure 2. 1 . Literature search strategy
As shown in Figure 2.1, The literature research started with the identification of research
terms. These included the terms related to the current research including multi-factor
authentication (MFA), socio-cultural factors affecting adoption of MFA, and unified theory of
acceptance and use of technology (UTAUT). After the research terms had been identified, the
next step was to select the library. The considered library for the literature search included
https://scholar.google.com/, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/, and https://www.scoups.com/.
With the libraries in mind, the next step was to do the searching for the sources for the
literature review. The literature search was based on the use of Boolean operators “AND” and
“OR” to combine the different research terms and then search on the libraries. The sources were
selected based on their year of publication. Since the problem is current, only sources published
within the past five years were included in the literature review. This means that the inclusion of
the sources started with the identification of the relevant sources that have the keywords in them,
then the year looked at from 2016, and then credibility was confirmed. For google scholar
sources, the date was modified so that the search engine indicated only sources from 2016.
Sources were selected based on the availability of any search term in it and then looked for
The last step was to do a review of the literature and analysis of the results found online.
The review was started by looking at the conceptual framework where the applicability of
UTAUT was discussed, how it has been applied in other studies, and how it fits into the current
study. The next form of analysis was based on the review of the literature itself on how other
authors have investigated the adoption of MFA. This looked at the different approaches that have
been used to investigate the adoption of MFA. Through such analysis, it was possible to identify
the gap and why it is necessary for the current study to utilize the UTAUT theoretical framework
in the investigation of the social and cultural factors that affect the adoption of MFA in Saudi
Arabian organizations. Additionally, the literature review was done by synthesizing the literature
to further identify the gap in the literature. Common themes in the currently existing research
were then summarized.
2.3 Conceptual Framework
Understanding the adoption of MFA in Saudi Arabian organizations can be best
understood through various theories relating to social and cultural factors. The most suitable
theory for this study is the “unified theory of acceptance and use of technology” (UTAUT). In
this theoretical model, accepting technology (IT) by the user is exemplified. Since MFA is also a
technology, whose adoption can be influenced by social and cultural factors, the UTAUT model
was the most appropriate for this research.
2.3.1 Historical Background of UTAUT
UTAUT was developed by Venkatesh et al. (2003) following the concerns on the
acceptance of information technology (IT) and information system (IS). For several decades,
several theories have been developed to help in the understanding of the factors that influence
the users’ decisions to accept new technology. UTAUT was formed after an analysis of several
theories including the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), theory of reasoned action,
personal computer utilization model, motivational model, the combined theory of technology
acceptance and planned behavior, social cognitive theory, diffusion of innovation theory, and the
theory of planned behavior (Dwivedi et al., 2019; Khechine et al., 2016) . These theories offered
several explanations for the acceptance of IT and IS and usage based on contextual factors and
the attributes of the technology (Dwivedi et al., 2019) . It was after the analysis of these different
theories that Venkatesh et al. (2003) discovered various weaknesses and shortcomings that later
enabled them to come up with one model, UTAUT, that could offer a more synthesized reason
why people tend to accept or reject various technologies.
2.3.2 Propositions of UTAUT
The UTAUT model has various propositions that can help in the understanding of the
social and cultural factors that affect the adoption of MFA in Saudi Arabian organizations. There
are four major propositions of the model – social influence, the expectancy of performance, the
expectancy of effort, and the availability of conditions facilitating the adoption of the technology
(Dwivedi et al., 2019) . These postulates describe various factors that influence an individual
towards the acceptance of a given technology.
The different postulates present information that directly highlights the reasons why
people tend to accept or reject a certain type of technology. The first proposition is performance
expectancy. This postulate states that individuals tend to accept a given technology in an
organization based on the influence that the technology has on their job satisfaction (Momani,
2020) . The second proposition is the effort expectancy, which defines the ease with which an
individual can use the IS or IT (Viswanath et al., 2016) . Social influence, on its side, states that
an individual will accept a new technology base on his or her perceptions of how much others
think they should have adopted the technology (Viswanath et al., 2016) . This implies that social
influence is specific to the application and the system as a subjective norm associated with
behaviors that are non-system specific. Lastly, the facilitating conditions are the beliefs by
individuals on the availability of infrastructure established by the organization to facilitate the
operation of the IS or IT (Dwivedi et al., 2019) . Through these postulates of UTAUT, it is
possible to develop variables and research questions that can help in a deeper understanding of
2.3.3 Research-Based Analysis of UTAUT
UTAUT has gained widespread application in various research seeking to understand the
factors that affect the adoption of technologies. Research shows that behavioral intentions are the
most commonly measured dependent variable for the understanding of system use (Khechine et
al., 2016) . Consequently, the theory has proved to be an explanatory model for IT and IS use and
The first recent literature on the use of UTAUT has been in measuring the factors
affecting the adoption of m-health by Hoque and Sorwar (2017) . The study by Hoque and
Sorwar (2017) , through the use of the UTAUT model, reported that technology anxiety, change
resistance, effort expectancy, performance expectancy, and social influence were the major
factors that impact the behavior of users to adopt the services of m-health. Furthermore, the
study also reported that there was no significant relationship between behavioral intention of the
user and facilitating conditions and the users’ intentions to adopt the new technology of m-
health. These findings hint the possible factors that might have impacted the adoption of MFA in
Saudi Arabian organizations.
UTAUT theoretical framework has also been used by Khechine et al. (2016) to measure
the acceptance and use of e-library. Through this approach, it was shown that expectancy of
performance has no significant influence on the acceptance of the technology in the universities
in Uganda. Nonetheless, social influence was a predictor of users’ behavioral intentions to use
the services offered by e-library (Khechine et al., 2016) . Also, the facilitating conditions
impacted the behavioral intentions to use the technological services. It can be seen that the
analysis of the findings in this study directly relates to the various postulates of UTAUT.
Maryati et al. (2018) used the UTAUT model to understand the adoption of e-
commerce within the e-library. In this approach, it was found that the incorporation of e-
commerce within e-library is useful in predicting the intentions of individuals to adopt and
embrace e-library services. The e-commerce aspect can be associated with the facilitating
conditions as postulated by the UTAUT model.
Also, Yavwa and Twinomurinzi (2018) used UTAUT to measure the compliance of
taxpayers with electronic tax filing systems. From the investigation, it was revealed that only
20% of informal organizations pay taxes. It was further shown that social influence, performance
expectancy, and effort expectancy were significant in predicting the intentions of taxpayers to do
the e-filling (Yavwa & Twinomurinzi, 2018) . In addition, Natasya et al. (2019) performed
similar investigations and derived the interview questions from the postulates of UTAUT to
determine e-tax filling compliance. This can also be used in the current research to understand
why some organizations in Saudi Arabia.
The acceptance of e-government services has also been investigated using the UTAUT
model (Faroqi et al., 2020) . The main purpose of this study was to investigate the various factors
that make citizens willing to use services offered through e-citizen. It was shown that effort
expectations, performance expectations, and the conditions that facilitate the operation of the IS
influenced in intentions of the citizens to use services of e-government (Faroqi et al., 2020) .
Since even the governmental organizations in Saudi Arabia experienced a cyberattack in 2019,
this research shows that UTAUT can be used to understand the acceptance and adoption of MFA
in government organizations.
Other authors have also used the UTAUT model in their various investigations. These
include the acceptance of webinar technology (Indrawati & Has, 2016) , and examining the
factors determining the behavioral intentions for the use of mobile learning (Chao, 2019) . From
the research works presented, it is evident that UTAUT is mainly used to investigate the
intention of various users to accept certain technologies. This explains the reason why the theory
was the most preferred for the investigation of the social and cultural factors that affect the
adoption of MFA in Saudi Arabian organizations.
2.3.4 Rationale for Selection of the UTAUT Model
The theory has been selected because it will improve the design of the study. It is evident
from the reviewed literature on UTAUT that the model is mainly used to measure the acceptance
or rejection of new technology. The postulates of the theory are also related to the social and
cultural factors that influence the acceptance of the technology. Therefore, this theory will be
used to assess the factors that affect the adoption of MFA in Saudi Arabian organizations based
on how those factors influence acceptance or rejection of the MFA technology. From this, the
main research question is “What are socio-cultural factors affecting the adoption of multi-factor
authentication in Saudi Arabian organizations?” Other research questions are also designed
based on the postulates of the UTAUT model.
2.4 Review of the Literature
Various methods have been used to investigate the adoption of MFA, from which the
current study can get some insights. For instance, Sinigaglia et al. (2020) investigated the use of
MFA for online banking. This was survey research that investigated the MFA adoption and
various choices that mobile banking companies make in various countries. Sinigaglia et al.
(2020) found that MFA is mainly used for best practice and compliance with the law, develop
robustness against cyberattacks, and complexity. The strength of the survey methodology used in
this research is that it gives first-hand information on the reasons why mobile banking adopts
MFA to safeguard their operations and also to comply with the laws. However, the weakness is
that the method lacks strong theoretical background, hence the data collection might have been
very general and hence difficult to analyze.
Das et al. (2019) also evaluated the perception of the users on the use of MFA. The study
was done through a systematic literature review of recently published research works. The
strength of this approach is that it enabled the researchers to get a wide range of data that they
can use to effectively analyze the research situation in a short time. The challenge, however, is
that the research might have carried all the limitations of the studies that it has used for the
literature review. The findings of this study relate to the current research in that it found that the
lower rates of MFA adoption are inevitable and that avoidance of MFA was pervasive in
mandatory situations (Das et al., 2019) . What the current study extracts from Das et al.'s (2019)
research is that it is inevitable to find organizations in Saudi Arabia that have not adopted MFA
in their operations. From this, a research gap is created that the inability to avoid the non-
adoption of MFA is linked with social and cultural factors, that must always exist in the
Ometov et al. (2019) investigated the challenges associated with the use of MFA for
securing advanced applications in the internet of things (IoT). This research found that people
are concerned with the comfortable interaction with the devices they own. As a result, the
process of authentication needs to be friendly to the user and also seamless in all its features
(Ometov et al., 2019) . This research goes ahead to provide a solution to the challenges that MFA
faces by stating that multiple methods used should be heterogenous in a manner that they can
grant availability of access (Ometov et al., 2019) . Although this study did not use UTAUT mode,
it can be seen that some postulates of the model relating to the ease of use and acceptance of the
technology. Therefore, the research will help design the interview questions of the current study.
Similarly, Ometov and Bezzateev (2017) also investigated the challenges faced in the
adoption of MFA using a survey approach. The authors stated that despite the digitalization
extending to almost every part of the society, security remains a major challenge (Ometov &
Bezzateev, 2017) . MFA is one of the solutions to the cybersecurity threats related to
digitalization. However, the design of the MFA used is a major challenge, which makes some
people feel uncomfortable using the technology. This can explain why most organizations in
Saudi Arabia find it challenging to implement the technology.
Another investigation has been made on the reasons why older persons do not want to
adopt two-factor authentications (Das et al., 2020) . The research shows that despite the
increasing number of older adults using digital technologies, they tend not to adopt two-factor
methods for authentication of their online access. This research was approached through semi-
structured interviews and surveys, from where it was found that older people tend not to adopt
MFA because of the design (Das et al., 2020) . From this research, age is an important factor that
might have impacted the adoption of MFA in Saudi Arabian organizations. Indeed, age is one of
the factors considered in the UTAUT model, hence the applicability of this research to the
Nagaraju and Parthiban (2016) assess how risky cloud computing systems can be since
sensitive information is always shared therein. As a solution, the study showed that MFA is a
proven way to secure cloud computing systems (Nagaraju & Parthiban, 2016) . This study
implies that it tries to state some of the reasons why the design of MFA must be the way it is
despite the complaints on the complexity and difficulty of its use. Nagaraju and Parthiban (2016)
proposed an MFA approach where user ID, biometric fingerprints, one-time passwords, and
password can be used to further heighten the security of cloud computing systems. Such a
proposal is quite complicated but still offers the best security for the systems. This study further
highlights the reasons why the adoption of OTP might have not been accepted in most Saudi
Ibrokhimov et al. (2019) did a state-of-the-art survey to assess the evolutions from single-
factor authentication to MFA. The Ibrokhimov et al. (2019) research further stated the high-level
categories that must be considered during the initiation of online security measures. These
categories include user privacy, usability, the security of the individuals (Ibrokhimov et al.,
2019) . These levels of protection further heighten the design of the MFA and hence the
challenges for its adoption. From UTAUT, the effort of expectancy postulate considers the ease
of use of an IS or IT and hence its acceptance by the people.
Boonkrong (2021) investigated the authentication factors. It is shown in this study that
more than 3.5 billion people operate online and also have access to various online services such
as shopping, banking, social media, and student records. Access to these services requires proper
authentication for user security to be guaranteed (Boonkrong, 2021) . Evidence from the factors
of authentication, which people tend to forget easily (Boonkrong, 2021) . As a result, it is
challenging for organizations to adopt MFA at the expense of the security of the service users.
Such forgetfulness might have been the reason for the low MFA rates of adoption in Saudi
Taher et al. (2019) researched cryptography enhancement through the use of MFA. The
researchers state that MFA’s main purpose is to offer an additional layer of security as targets
such as locations, networks, databases, and computing devices are being sought (Taher et al.,
2019) . Taher et al. (2019) showed that MFA can reduce the risks of using single-level
authentications. The challenge is that MFA may be tedious for the users and hence the less
Further research has also been done by Subrayan et al. (2017) to determine the
application of MFA for protecting social networks. The reuse of passwords in the same website
several times makes users vulnerable to shadow attacks unless an additional authentication
method is implemented (Subrayan et al., 2017) . This study relates to the current study in that it
helps in further understanding the problem to be addressed in this study. The high cyberattack on
Saudi Arabian organizations can be explained by the fact that most of these organizations did not
have MFA in their systems. Therefore, the reuse of passwords by users could have exposed them
Ribeiro et al. (2020) further study how the use of MFA prevents the personification of
users in federation institutions. The study demonstrated that most organizations taking part in
academic federations use authentications based on passwords (Ribeiro et al., 2020) . However,
the challenge is that an attacker only needs one password and will be able to impersonate the
user. With the use of MFA, it is possible to further heighten the user security and hence less
compromise of user information. This study helps understand how risky it is when there are no
proper authentication means.
Additionally, Venukumar and Pathari (2016) investigated the threshold through which
MFA must meet for cryptography. According to Venukumar and Pathari (2016) , the current
schemes for MFA require the use of an intermediate password to be stored for future use. The
challenge with MFA is that they also experience risks where users are required to enter their
passwords in open places such as in the points of sale (Venukumar & Pathari, 2016) . This further
explains why some organizations might have not adopted MFA in their operations. Thus, this
research implies that there is a need for a deeper understanding of why most organizations in
Saudi Arabia have not adopted MFA in their operations.
2.5 Synthesis of Literature Findings
From the available literature, UTAUT is the main model for the investigation of the
adoption of various technologies. For example, UTAUT has been used by various authors to
measure the acceptance of m-health (Hoque & Sorwar, 2017) , e-library services (Khechine et al.,
2016; Maryati et al., 2018) , compliance to e-tax filing (Yavwa & Twinomurinzi, 2018) ,
acceptance of e-government services (Faroqi et al., 2020) , webinar technology (Indrawati & Has,
2016) , and examining the factors determining the behavioral intentions for the use of mobile
learning (Chao, 2019) . These studies demonstrate that it is possible to investigate the social and
cultural factors affecting the adoption of MFA in Saudi Arabian organizations using the same
model of UTAUT.
Various research also presents a gap in the literature on understanding the exact factors
that affect the adoption of MFA. The existing research works have mainly investigated the
application of MFA in online banking (Sinigaglia et al., 2020) , and user perception on the
acceptance of MFA ( Das et al., 2019) . The literature has also investigated the challenges
associated with the use of MFA such as the design (Ometov et al., 2018; Ometov & Bezzateev,
2017) , and older adults finding it difficult to use the MFA systems (Das et al., 2020) . The
complications in the MFA systems are shown to be made based on security enhancement
thresholds (Boonkrong, 2021; Ibrokhimov et al., 2019; Nagaraju & Parthiban, 2016; Taher et al.,
2019; Venukumar & Pathari, 2016) . Despite the complexity in the design of MFA systems and
hence people finding a challenge to adapt it, Ribeiro et al. (2020) showed that it is the
appropriate method to prevent the personification of individuals in IS and IT. From the literature
review, the gap is that there is no direct research that investigates why people find it challenging
to conform to the challenges in MFA as long as it will bring security to their systems. Therefore,
the current study aims to investigate the social and cultural factors that affect the adoption of
MFA in Saudi Arabian countries.
The major theme that comes from this literature review is that UTAUT is the most
commonly used model to assess the factors that impact an individual’s ability to accept or reject
technology. The postulates of this model – performance expectancy, effort expectancy, social
influence, and the facilitating conditions impact the rejection or acceptance of the technology.
For this reason, a large amount of research has used UTAUT to investigate the adoption of other
technologies such as m-Health, e-library services (Khechine et al., 2016; Maryati et al., 2018) ,
compliance to the e-tax filing, acceptance of e-government services, webinar technology
acceptance, and in examining the factors determining the behavioral intentions for the use of
mobile learning. However, the difference between the existing studies and what the current study
intends to do is that the protection of these technologies using MFA is at the center of the current
study. Therefore, a deeper understanding is needed of the factors that make organizations not
adopt or accept MFA.
On the other hand, the research on MFA demonstrates that design is the most challenging
factor for adoption. The literature suggests that MFA is widely used in electronic applications,
but the challenge is that most users find it challenging to use the MFA systems. For example,
older adults are shown to find it uncomfortable to use the authentication technique. The
complexity of the MFA design is in the fact that it must involve series of processes to effectively
meet the security challenges that organizations experience. The available literature still maintains
that the protection of information systems and IT is highly achievable with MFA. Therefore, it is
essential to investigate the social and cultural factors that affect the adoption of MFA in Saudi
Arabian organizations, from where the solution to the challenge can be found.
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