Think Harder! Investigating the Effect of Password Strength on Cognitive Load during Password Creation

Abdrabou, Y., Abdelrahman, Y., Khamis, M. and Alt, F. (2021) Think Harder! Investigating the Effect of Password Strength on Cognitive Load during Password Creation. In: 2021 ACM CHI Virtual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 08-13 May 2021, p. 259. ISBN 9781450380959 (doi: 10.1145/3411763.3451636)

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Strict password policies can frustrate users, reduce their productivity, and lead them to write their passwords down. This paper investigates the relation between password creation and cognitive load inferred from eye pupil diameter. We use a wearable eye tracker to monitor the user’s pupil size while creating passwords with different strengths. To assess how creating passwords of different strength (namely weak and strong) influences users’ cognitive load, we conducted a lab study (N = 15). We asked the participants to create and enter 6 weak and 6 strong passwords. The results showed that passwords with different strengths affect the pupil diameter, thereby giving an indication of the user’s cognitive state. Our initial investigation shows the potential for new applications in the field of cognition-aware user interfaces. For example, future systems can use our results to determine whether the user created a strong password based on their gaze behavior, without the need to reveal the characteristics of the password.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Khamis, Dr Mohamed
Authors: Abdrabou, Y., Abdelrahman, Y., Khamis, M., and Alt, F.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Computing Science
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Association for Computing Machinery
First Published:First published in CHI EA '21: Extended Abstract of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: 259
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
310627TAPS: Assessing, Mitigating and Raising Awareness of the Security and Privacy Risks of Thermal ImagingMohamed KhamisEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/V008870/1Computing Science