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THE EFFIENCY AND VERSATILITY OF VISUAL PASSWORDS

Presentation at Elon Student Undergraduate Research Forum, Spring 2011

David S. Williams Jr. (Dr. Duke Hutchings) Department of Computing Sciences

Textual-based passwords and numerical PINs are widely used to authenticate users on electronic devices such as computers, mobile phones, and tablets. The question arises on whether or not those methods are the most effective ways for verifying a user‘s identity or if a visual password system would produce better results. Visual password schemes have started to become developed and proposed as alternatives to the aforementioned textual-based and numerical PIN user authentication methods. None of them have gained a widespread adoption as they would require people to change what they have been using for years as well as encounter a learning burden. However, if research becomes successful in illustrating the advantages of a visual password system, then its widespread adoption would be much more likely.

The research for this project will be conducted during the Spring 2012 semester and will include experimentation of different types of password interfaces on a variety of devices. Participants‘ efficiency of password entry and error rate will be documented to quantify the effectiveness of each selected system. A report will be created from the experimentation to show the speed with which the interfaces can be used as well as their versatility across devices. We aim to conclude our research with recommendations about the efficiency and versatility of different systems. Password entry is an integral component of everyday life in business and personal affairs, and the most efficient and versatile methods should be at the forefront.