Human Generated Passwords - the Impacts of Password Requirements and Presentation Styles

The generation stage of the user password management lifecycle is arguably the most important yet perilous step. Fulfilling minimum length and character type requirements while attempting to create something memorable can become an arduous task, leaving the users frustrated and confused. Our study focuses on two areas ‹ password requirements and formatting, and examines the differences in user performance to understand the human password generation space. The results show a clear drop in performance when users generate passwords following a complex rule set as opposed to a simple rule set, with fewer passwords, more errors, and longer times for rule comprehension and password generation. Formatted rule presentation shows promising results that may facilitate user password generation. Findings from this study will contribute to a better understanding of the user password generation stage and shed light on future development of password policies balancing security and usability.

Authors: Paul Y. Lee; Yee-Yin Choong

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