Textual passwords remain the most common and cumbersome format for logins to online services. For many user groups, such as the visually impaired and the elderly, this can be a problem. Now, a team in the USA has developed an alternative, graphical password system to circumvent some of the barriers to accessibility for the older internet user.
Nancy Carter, Cheng Li, Qun Li, and Jennifer Stevens of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, Ed Novak of Franklin & Marshall College, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Zhengrui Qin of Northwest Missouri State University, in Maryville, Missouri, USA, explain that not all users have sufficient cognitive skills nor manual dexterity to readily easily create, recall, and enter strong text-based passwords. The new system is based on embedding familiar facial images among random unfamiliar images so that a user with stymied abilities might still be able to use a password to login.
Tests with a group of over-60s showed that the graphical password technique can have recall rate of 97%, shows password “entropy” superior to a short PIN, and authentication time comparable to that possible with short text passwords. The system, as it stands, is particularly suited to users with limited manual dexterity who do not need the additional barrier of having to type convoluted text-based passwords when clicking with a mouse on images or tapping a touchscreen would suffice for many applications.
Carter, N., Li, C., Li, Q., Stevens, J.A., Novak, E. and Qin, Z. (2018) ‘Graphical passwords for older computer users‘, Int. J. Security and Networks, Vol. 13, No. 4, pp.211-227.