Armchair Authentication
Authors: Karen Renaud, Joseph Maguire

Date: September 2009
Publication: Proceedings of the 2009 British Computer Society Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, BCS-HCI '09
Page(s): 388 - 397
Publisher: British Computer Society Swinton
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Abstract or Summary:
Alphanumeric authentication, by means of a secret, is not only a powerful mechanism, in theory, but prevails over all its competitors in practice. However, it is clearly inadequate in a world where increasing numbers of systems and services require people to authenticate in a shared space, while being actively observed. This new reality places pressure on a password mechanism never intended for use in such a context. Asterisks may obfuscate alphanumeric characters on entry but popular systems, e.g. Apple iPhone and Nintendo Wii, regularly require users to use an on-screen keyboard for character input. This may not be a real concern within the context of secluded space but inadvertly reveals a secret within shared space. Such a secret has an economic cost in terms of replacement, recall and revenue, all of which affect the financial return of the offending systems and services.

In this paper, we present and evaluate a graphical authentication mechanism, Tetrad, which appears to have the potential to address these specific concerns.

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