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“The heart is a muscle. You ‘know’ in your limbic brain. The seat of instinct. The mammalian brain. Deeper, wider, beyond logic. That is where advertising works, not in the upstart cortex. What we think of as ‘mind’ is only a sort of jumped-up gland, piggybacking on the reptilian brainstem and the older, mammalian mind, but our culture tricks us into recognizing it as all of consciousness. The mammalian spreads continent-wide beneath it, mute and muscular, attending its ancient agenda. And makes us buy things.”
– Hubertus Bigend,
Pattern Recognition, William Gibson

Change Password UI Study

Conventional wisdom seems to have concluded that traditional passwords are inherently insecure. The argument is usually that users choose bad passwords and cannot be expected to remember strong passwords. We feel that these conclusions are premature and that this argument is flawed. At present most password selection mechanisms are not designed according to basic HCI principles and we believe that this is highly responsible for the above conclusions. Our current research is reexamining the problem of password selection and memorability through the exploration of password selection mechanisms with novel interface designs. The goal of this research is develop both principles and designs that help users to choose passwords that are both memorable and secure.

To conduct the original study I implemented a homework submission system in PHP. It is is online at https://www.dropbox-online.com. Students used the system like a normal system, with the Java applets above integrated for password selection. At the end of the semester I got consent from stuents to view their Password Quality Score data and tabulate results.

Papers

  Improving Interface Designs To Help Users Choose Better Passwords (Work-In-Progress Paper)     
  CHI2006 Poster 1 (891k JPG)   CHI2006 Poster 2 (515k JPG)
  Improving the Passowrd Selection Mechanism (Poster Abstract)     
  SOUPS 2006 Poster (905k JPG)
  Improving the Password Selection Mechanism Study Design (ppt)  (pdf) 
  Improving the Password Selection Mechanism
  Study Construction Kit

Change Password Applets

Control Applet
Progress Bar Applet
Smiley Applet
Warning Applet

Related Work

If you've done work related to password selection UI send me an e-mail and I will link to it here!

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